Lemon sole on the bone with parsley and clam butter

Lemon sole on the bone with parsley and clam butter

British Seafood
David Loftus

I’ve always been mad about potted food (shrimps, duck, crab etc), probably because they are so well seasoned, which they need to be as they are typically eaten cold. Here I’ve taken the classic potted shrimp seasoning – lemon, cayenne, nutmeg and parsley – and incorporated it into butter, which I warm the clams up in. You can do the same with cockles.


Quantity Ingredient
4 lemon soles, prepared, about 400 g each, (see note)
2kg live clams, cleaned, (see note)
light rapeseed oil, for cooking
100ml white wine
cornish sea salt

Flavoured butter

Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter, softened
4 teaspoons curly parsley, chopped
20 rasps nutmeg
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
1-2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
lemon wedges
Deep-fried courgettes, optional


  1. For the flavoured butter, put the butter, parsley, nutmeg, cayenne, lemon zest and juice in a food processor or blender and process for 2 minutes until well blended. Transfer to a bowl and add the shallots, garlic and salt to taste. Fold together until evenly combined. Lay a sheet of cling film on a work surface and spoon the butter onto it. Wrap the butter in the cling film, rolling it into a long sausage and tie the ends of the cling film to secure. Chill for 2 hours to firm up before serving. (The butter will keep in the fridge for a week, or it can be frozen.)
  2. When ready to serve, heat your grill to medium-high. Oil the grill tray. Now oil the white side of the fish, season with salt and lay in the grill tray, white side down. Drizzle a little more oil over the upper brown side of the fish and season with salt. Slide the tray under the grill and cook the fish for 5–6 minutes.
  3. At the same time, place a large saucepan (that has a tight-fitting lid) over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the clams and wine. Put the lid on and steam for 2 minutes until the shells open. Drain the clams, reserving the juices; discard any that are unopened.
  4. Baste the fish under the grill with the cooking juices and a little more oil if needed. Grill for a further 5–6 more minutes until cooked, checking every minute or so towards the end.
  5. Meanwhile, unwrap the butter and slice into discs. When the fish is cooked, place 3 slices of the flavoured butter on top of each lemon sole and soften it slightly under the grill. At the same time, gently warm the clams in some of the flavoured butter. (Refrigerate any leftover butter for another use.)
  6. Place a cooked lemon sole on each warmed serving plate and add the fish cooking juices to the clams. Spoon the clams and butter over the lemon soles and sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and a bowl of crispy deep-fried courgettes or seasonal vegetables of your choice.

Preparing a flat fish to cook whole

  • First make sure the fish has been gutted and is free from scales and sea slime. If the guts are still in place you’ll find them easy to remove. They are situated just below the head and pectoral fin, so feel around with your fingers until you locate the soft innards. Make a semi-circular cut around the edge of the gut cavity, insert your fingers and pull the guts out. Rinse the cavity.

    Now, using strong scissors, trim away the skirt from around the edge of the fish. Cut off all the fins and trim the tail. On bigger fish like turbot you may want to remove the gills and skin, but I don’t bother. I know I’m not going to eat the gills, so they don’t offend me and I like to keep the skin on because it gives the fish some protection during cooking.


  • Mussels are an excellent, sustainable seafood and easy to prepare. Before cooking, check that they are in good condition and closed. Tap any open mussels sharply – they will close up if they’re alive, otherwise discard them. Similarly throw away any mussels that have cracked or damaged shells. Pull away the hairy ‘beard’, attached to one end of the mussel. Farmed mussels should only need a quick rinse to clean them without washing away flavour, but if mussels are sandy or dirty you’ll need to give them a more thorough wash or a quick soak in cold water.
British Seafood
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