This dish was conceived to celebrate the triumph of joie de vivre over life’s everyday drudgery. Here is the story. There was once a Sensible Girl who was looking for a job. She promised herself that when she was successful, she would reward herself with a pair of designer sunglasses. These would be a good investment she argued, since her old pair had broken, and she would wear them regularly.
The Sensible Girl did all the Sensible Things required to get a job. She sent multiple applications and trudged to many interviews. Months went past, and despair and self-doubt began to gnaw at her insistently.
Then, out of the blue, and no thanks to any of her Sensible Activities, she was offered The Perfect Job.
On the day her first pay cheque flutters into her bank account she arrives home to find her house mate cooking sole. “You seem to have been shopping” the house mate observes, “but that bag looks too big for just sunglasses” she adds, eyebrow arched. Out of a miasma of tissue the Sensible Girl draws a breathtakingly short, eye-wateringly tight, shimmering and shining gold dress. “How often do you think you will wear that?” demands the house mate, eyebrow now arched to breaking point. But the Sensible Girl is smiling and stroking the dress too much to answer…
The gold dress in this case is the turmeric flavoured Basmati, and the orange and yellow peppers.
- 100 g (about two fifths of a brick) butter – cut into two
- 1 level tsp turmeric
- 300g (two cups) basmati (or even better basmati with wild rice)
- 2 fish stock cubes
- 1 large yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, take out seeds and stalk, cut into slivers lengthwise then chop in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
- sea salt (smoked is best) and pepper
- large bunch parsley, chopped
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 lemon – divide into eight segments
- 8 x 75g fillets of lemon sole*
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- heat the oven to 180°C
- melt one of the halves of butter in a medium sized saucepan, mix in the turmeric
- pour in the rice, stir to coat each grain, cook over medium heat for about five minutes
- boil some water, pour into a cup and dissolve the stock cubes in it
- stir into rice
- add three more cups just boiled water
- cover the pan and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes – until water is absorbed
- fry the peppers in olive oil on a high heat until they just start to caramelise
- mix the flour and the seasoning, and the parsley
- mix the mayonnaise, chopped tarragon, and the juice from one of the eighths of lemon, keep at room temperature
- take peppers out and keep warm
- coat the fillets in the seasoned, herbed flour
- add a tbsp of sunflower oil and half the remaining butter to a hot frying pan
- when the butter froths add half the fish and cook over medium-high heat on both sides until golden, take out, keep warm
- do the same with the remaining fish, oil and butter
- mix the peppers in with the cooked rice, and serve with the fish (garnished with lemon slices) and the mayonnaise.
*lemon sole is not actually a sole…in fact it’s a type of flounder… and it doesn’t taste of lemon either! It has both eyes on the same side which makes it look a bit weird.
The dish goes well, appropriately, with a golden yellow Pouilly Fuissé – try “Margolliets” from Vinyards Direct.
This post is dedicated, with thanks, to Domini, Claudia, and Rachel.