I was shopping at my local Tesco’s and saw samphire in the vegetable aisle. Of course I had to get it. Then I had to think of what to actually cook with it. Fish would be the obvious choice and by chance I had a sea bream keeping in the freezer. I remembered watching Valentine Warner in ‘What to Eat Now’, cooking a fish with beurre blanc on a little makeshift stove by the river. A quick google search later, more shopping for potatoes, white wine and shallots and I was set. This is my version of his recipe. I added the potatoes because I can’t do without any carbs and they look really pretty on the plate! It might seem really complicated to read, and to be honest there are quite a few component parts to this recipe but with a little bit of organisation it’s actually a pretty simple dish to make. The smooth and unctuous but tangy sauce really ties everything together. Let me tell you, this is as close to a restaurant dish as I’ve ever cooked, presented and tasted.
Samphire is a sea vegetable that grows along the shoreline and in marshes. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty salty and has a lovely crunchy texture.
Sea bream with samphire and beurre blanc
For the potatoes
500g new potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
Generously salted hot boiling water
3 tbsp sunflower oil
For the beurre blanc
100g of chilled butter, cubed
2 medium shallots, or half a small white onion, chopped roughly
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
1 bay leaf
3 black peppercorns
150ml dry white wine
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
For the sea bream
2 fillets of sea bream (or any other white fish)
4 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and ground black pepper
For the samphire
Hot boiling water, NO salt added
- Boil the cubed potatoes in the salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, until they’re tender inside.
- Heat up the sunflower oil in a pan over medium high heat.
- Fry the potatoes in the pan until they are a golden brown colour. While the potatoes are frying, prepare the beurre blanc and fish. Stir them periodically while they fry.
- Prepare the beurre blanc. Heat up 1tbsp of sunflower oil and 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat (the oil prevents the butter from burning). Add the shallots, garlic, bay leaf and black peppercorns into the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, until the shallots have softened but not browned.
- Add in the white wine and vinegar and boil until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds.
- Use a hand whisk to whisk in the cold butter cubes a few at a time until all the butter has been incorporated into the mixture and the sauce is thick and glossy. The mixture must not boil at this stage. If it gets too hot, just remove the pan from the heat while whisking the butter in.
- If you have used unsalted butter, taste and season with salt.
- Strain the sauce and keep in a warm place.
- Heat a saucepan over medium high heat. Dredge the sea bream fillets in the seasoned flour.
- Fry the fillets skin side down first for 2 minutes. The skin needs to be flat against the pan to crisp up, so use your spatula to press the fish down to prevent the fillets from arching up. Turn the sea bream over and fry for a further 1 minute.
- Boil the samphire in water for 1 minute, strain and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- To serve, divide the samphire between two plates. Place the fish on top and scatter the potatoes over and around the fish. Spoon the beurre blanc over and around the fish.