Baked whole plaice and cider onions with tarragon and anchovy butter

I really wanted to get this recipe into my first book but I couldn’t fit it in, so I’m delighted to find a place (ha, ha!) for it here. Plaice is one of those fish that doesn’t get enough praise. At its best, it is unbeatable in my view. It can handle all sorts of flavours – cider, tarragon, anchovy and onions, for instance.

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Serves 2

1 plaice, at least 1kg, gutted

50ml olive oil
2 white onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 bay leaves
200ml dry cider
Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tarragon and anchovy butter
200g unsalted butter, softened
Bunch of tarragon, leaves only
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 salted anchovy fillets, chopped


To serve
Lemon wedges
Heat your oven to 220C/Gas 7.
• For the flavoured butter, put the softened butter into a bowl. Chop the tarragon and add to the butter with the chopped shallots and anchovies.
• Mix well until evenly combined and season with pepper, and a little salt, if needed, to taste.
• Shape the butter into a roll on a sheet of cling film, wrap in the film and twist and tie the ends to seal. Refrigerate to firm up.
• Put the olive oil, onions and bay leaves in a roasting tray, pour on the cider and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
• Season the plaice all over with salt and pepper. Take the roasting tray from the oven and lay the fish on top of the onions. Put the tray back in the oven and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the plaice is just cooked.
• Meanwhile, unwrap and slice the butter. To check the fish is cooked, make an incision into the thickest part and see if the flesh is pulling away from the bone.
• Slice the butter, lay it on top of the fish and pop the tray back into the oven for 2 minutes.
• Serve the plaice simply with the cider onions and lemon wedges.

Recipe reproduced from Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, published by Quadrille (£20). Photography: David Loftus.