Lemon sole fillets with brown butter, samphire and butter poached roes

Sole and samphire are a perfect match. Last summer I was fortunate enough to be able to forage some samphire and sea purslane from the Alde estuary and then buy some sole from one of the little fish shacks on Aldeburgh beach. I haven’t been able to travel to the coast yet this year but Sylvia Jennings at Islington farmers’ market now has both. This was a really simple, but relatively impressive, Sunday evening supper.

I made it a bit more complicated by cooking the roes. Often sole will include the roes. If you cook the fish whole you can eat these as they are but I was filleting this fish so needed to find another way to use them. I also included some minted new season carrots.

Serves 2


1 small sole, filleted and roes removed; two handfuls of samphire, picked and washed; 1 tsp chopped parsley; 1tsp chopped chives; approx 50 g unsalted butter; half a lemon; salt and white pepper; bay leaf.


First prepare the roes. Infuse a bayleaf in boiling water, enough to completely immerse the roes in. Add some salt and turn the water down to a simmer. Place the roes into the water and gently simmer until they are just firm (about a minute or two). Remove and set aside. You can keep the water to blanch the samphire. When cool enough to handle, slice the roes cross-ways, in about 3 mm thicknesses.

Lightly season the skin side of the sole with sea salt flakes and white pepper. Warm about half the butter in frying pan until foaming then place in the sole fillets, skin side down for about two minutes. Gently lift one of the fillets, when the skin is just golden, turn off the heat and turn the fillets over. Cook for about another two minutes until just cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Turn up the heat again to medium and add the rest of the butter. Place the roes in the butter and cook on both sides until just beginning to colour, remove and keep warm with the sole.

Turn up the heat a bit more to get the butter foaming. As it just starts to colour remove from the heat, squeeze in some lemon juice and add the chives and parsley.

Blanch the samphire in boiling water for no more than 30 seconds, drain well then arrange on a plate.

Place the sole fillets on the samphire and arrange the roes pieces around. Spoon over the brown butter and herbs and sprinkle over some sea salt flakes.


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