Recipe: barbecued plaice with fennel seed, chilli, aubergine and tomatoes

Cook up a delicious seashore supper from foraged greens and sustainable fish with River Cottage chef Gill Meller

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Serves 4

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1 large plaice (1.5kg- 2kg)

1 tbls fennel seeds

2 tsp black peppercorns

2 tsp chilli flakes

3 tsp flaky salt

2 medium abergines sliced into round or wedges

150g cherry tomatoes on the vine 

2 tbls olive oil

This is a great way to cook a large fish and works really well on the barbecue, but if the weather’s looking less than summery, the same thing can be achieved inside, in a hot oven.

Method

If you’ve caught the plaice yourself, first gut and scale it; if it’s from the fishmonger and ask him or her to do it for you. Put the fish on a large board and, using a sharp knife, cut some slash marks on both sides of the fish. 

These cuts will help the flavours from the spices penetrate into the fish. It will also allow the heat from the barbecue to reach the centre of the fish more quickly.

Use a pestle and mortar to crush the fennel seeds, black pepper, chilli flakes and salt together. Trickle olive oil over the fish and rub it in, together with the fennel seed mixture- make sure it gets into the slash marks.

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Set the fish on to the oiled grill of a hot barbecue. Season the aubergine pieces and tomatoes and place them on the grill next to the fish. Cook the plaice and veg carefully for 15 or so minutes on each side. If the barbecue is too hot, you will burn the fish, so watch the heat closely. You can always take the fish off and allow the embers to die back a little. You will probably need to use a large spatular (or two) to help turn the fish. Don’t worry if the skin or flesh tears; it’s still going to taste amazing.