Gurnard is an unloved fish and therefore sustainable. If one chef is capable of changing gurnard's image for the better it is Paul Foster - and he does so with aplomb in this festive baked fish recipe. If you can't get hold of girolles, use some firm fresh oyster mushrooms that you can then tear into rustic strips to serve.
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Remove the fish from the fridge or ice, allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. This will ensure an even cooking process and a more consistent result
Preheat the oven to 140˚C/gas mark 2. Prepare the gurnard by scaling, gutting and removing the head. You can ask your fishmonger to do this for you
8 whole gurnards
Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and allow to gently foam. Add the gurnard to the pan, fillet side down, and fry until lightly brown. Turn the fish over and fry on the other side to achieve the same colour
200g of butter
Remove the fish from the pan and place on a baking tray, belly-side down. Wipe the pan clean to remove the used butter and repeat the process to sear off the remaining 7 gurnard
Once all the gurnard have been seared, place the additional 100g of butter in the same pan and as soon as it begins to foam, add the star anise and orange zest. Stir through and allow to infuse for 1 minute. Spoon the infusion evenly over the gurnard and place into a preheated oven at 140˚C/gas mark 1 for 8 minutes
16 star anise
2 large oranges
Meanwhile, season the girolles with a generous amount of salt and set aside for 10 minutes - this will soften, season and enhance the final flavour of the mushrooms
600g of girolles
Next, prepare the dressing. Heat the butter in a small pan until it turns golden brown and releases a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat
100g of butter
Combine the brown butter with the chicken stock, lemon juice and soy sauce. Pour into a squeeze bottle or jar, shake to combine, taste and season with salt or lemon juice if needed
100ml of brown chicken stock
lemon juice to taste
1ml of soy sauce
To prepare the sprout leaves, remove the root of the sprouts to loosen the leaves and continue to cut away at the root until all the layers have been separated
500g of Brussels sprout leaves
Place the butter, water and a generous pinch of salt into a medium pan. Place the pan over a medium heat and as the butter melts - whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning: it needs to be very salty to act as seasoning during the cooking process of the sprout leaves
250g of butter
250ml of water
Bring to the boil and add the sprout leaves for 1-2 minutes, strain and keep in a warm place
Once the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and lightly coat with the brown butter dressing. Pour any excess pan juices and dressing off the roasting tray into the bowl with the mushrooms
Divide the girolles and sprout leaves evenly between 8 plates. Place each fish in the centre of each plate and use the remaining dressing to glaze the fish and sauce the plate. Finish with some fresh watercress and serve immediately
1 bunch of watercress leaves
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