I was seduced. The brill just looked so beautiful on the crushed ice, thick, glistening, speckled a fish in shiny Connemara tweed. And I had a daughter, a nephew and his wife for dinner. How could I resist. I didn’t. With brown shrimps and cucumber I thought. Don’t ask me why. The inspiration of the moment? The need to use up an antique cucumber in the fridge? Something like that. And some fennel from the garden. Now I come to think about it, this would have been even better with dill instead of the fennel, but I didn’t have any. If you can’t find one of those nice plastic containers of Dutch brown shrimps, use potted shrimps instead. Expensive, but worth it.
1 brill weighing about 1 kg
Several sprigs of fennel
Chambery vermouth or white wine
100g peeled brown shrimps or 2 small pots of potted shrimps
25g unsalted butter
Salt & pepper
Turn on your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the brill devoid of guts and gills on a big piece of foil. Put a frond or two of fennel or dill inside the cavity where the guts were, and spread the rest on top of the fish. Splash some vermouth or white wine, but too much, over it, and then wrap up the fish in the foil, making sure the joins are securely sealed. Put it on a tray and then onto the oven. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Open up to test to see if it’s done (Make an incision down the backbone, and see if the flesh lifts away from the bone. It should do so quite easily.
While that’s cooking, peel (& deseed the cucumber if you can be bothered). Dice up into pretty small cubes. Melt the butter in a frying pan. If you’re using the potted shrimps, use the butter from the pots. Toss in the cucumber squares and heat through.
When the brill is cooked, open up the foil parcel and pour all the juices inside in with the cucumber. Add the brown shrimps and warm them through. Sharpen up with a squeeze of lemon.
Divide up the fish among the plates and scatter the cucumber and shrimps and buttery juices over the filets.