Steamed symphony of seafood

Paul Rankin's sublime combination of fresh fish in a light butter saffron sauce makes beautiful music indeed
By Paul Rankin
Steamed symphony of seafood
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 120 g each of salmon, lemon sole, sea bass and skate fillets
  • 1 small bunches chives, finely chopped
  • melted butter, for greasing

For the butter vinaigrette

  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 1 pinches strands saffron
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 150 ml fish stock
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped

To serve

  • buttered spinach
  • boiled potatoes


1. Carefully trim the fish fillets, making sure that they are nicely shaped and free of bones. Cut the fillets into appropriate sizes, ensuring that you have 4 pieces of each fish being used. Save the trimmings, and bones to infuse in the butter vinaigrette.

2. For the butter vinaigrette: clarify the butter by bringing it to a simmer in a small saucepan. Skim off any froth which comes to the surface. When the surface has cleared, let the butter settle, and simply pour the butter off, leaving behind any watery, milky liquid. Discard the milky liquid, and reserve the clarified butter.

3. In another small saucepan, simmer the wine with the shallot, saffron threads, and reserved fish trimmings until the liquid has reduced to about 3 tablespoons.

4. Add the fish stock and star anise and simmer again until you have about 200-230ml liquid left. Strain this liquid through a fine sieve. Season with salt and white pepper.

5. Add the chopped tomato, tarragon, and clarified butter and correct the seasoning if necessary.

6. Season the fish fillets with salt and ground white pepper.

7. Add the chopped chives to the lemon sole fillets and roll them up.

8. With a pastry brush, butter a large steaming basket, and arrange the pieces of fish carefully in it. (You can also steam the potatoes and spinach in the steamer with the fish, if you wish, but remember that the potatoes will take longer to cook than the fish and spinach.)

9. Put the steamer basket over a pan of boiling water, cover, and steam for approximately 4 minutes or until cooked.

10. To serve, arrange some spinach on a plate as a bed for the fish, then put the fish pieces neatly on top and spoon over the warm butter vinaigrette. Serve with boiled potatoes.

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