Lemon Sole with Orange-baked Chicory and Clam Paper Parcels
Portion/Yield:Serves 2 as a main course
This recipe is both magical and impressive and it will intrigue your guests. All the ingredients are wrapped up together in a paper parcel, then oven-baked and served. When you open the puffed-up paper parcels, you will be greeted with the most delicious smells and steam coming from the succulent food inside.
This style of cooking has a purpose, and as with this recipe, the steam will open the clams and cook the fish, capturing all the juices in one place and keeping all the components succulent and moist – a bit of culinary magic indeed. This recipe requires a bit of preparation, as the chicory has to be cooked before it goes into the parcels, but the effort is well worth the deliciousness.
Ingredients & Method
- 2 heads of red or white chicory
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar about
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 20–24 large fresh clams (in shell)
- 2 whole lemon sole on the bone (about 400g each), skin and fins removed
- 200ml dry sherry or dry white wine
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra finely grated orange zest, to garnish
First, prepare the chicory. Cut the chicory into quarters, place in a bowl, then sprinkle over the icing sugar and salt and pepper and toss to lightly coat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan and once the butter starts to foam and turn a nutty brown colour, add the chicory and fry over a high heat for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown all over. Reduce the heat after a while and add a little extra butter if the chicory is starting to catch. Plenty of colour is good and adds to the flavour, but do not let the chicory burn.
Add the orange zest and juice, reduce the heat to low, then let the chicory cook gently for 8–10 minutes or until tender. You will need to turn the chicory pieces over a few times to get an even glaze all over, as the juices will thicken and become sticky and glossy. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, wash the clams thoroughly under cold running water and discard any clams that do not shut firmly when tapped against the edge of the sink. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Cut out two 40 x 40cm pieces of non-stick baking paper and lay them out on a spacious work surface. Divide the chicory evenly between the 2 pieces of paper, placing it in the centre. Spoon over the pan juices.
Wipe the pan clean and return to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and once it has melted and starts to foam, season the lemon sole with salt (and pepper, if you like – I prefer to use salt only) and place the fish in the pan. Cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, then add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan. Immediately remove the fish from the pan, carefully flip the fish over and place a fish on top of each portion of chicory. Pour the warm melted butter and pan juices over the fish. Divide the clams between the 2 portions of chicory and fish.
For each parcel, take 2 opposite sides of the paper, bring them together over the top of the ingredients and fold over to seal tightly, then do the same with the other 2 opposite sides, but just before sealing, carefully pour half of the sherry into each parcel and then seal the parcels tightly. Place the parcels on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, by which time the parcels will have puffed-up like big pillows.
Remove from the oven, place each parcel on a serving plate and carefully open each one (discard any cooked clams that remain unopened). Garnish with the parsley and orange zest and enjoy! Serve with steamed couscous, boiled brown rice or boiled new potatoes and steamed seasonal greens.