Grilled Lemon Plaice with Golden Couscous and Fennel

Grilled Lemon Plaice with Golden Couscous and Fennel


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About this recipe: A bed of couscous spiced with turmeric and flavoured with fennel soaks up the buttery cooking juices from grilled plaice – an amazingly fast meal that looks and tastes terrific.

Jan Cutler

Serves: 4 

  • 200g couscous
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 white-skinned plaice fillets, about 160g each
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 lemon
  • 40g butter

Prep:10min  ›  Cook:6min  ›  Ready in:16min 

  1. Soak the couscous: Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl and stir in the turmeric. Pour in boiling water to cover the couscous by just under 1cm. Do not stir. Cover the bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare the plaice: Preheat the grill to high. Brush the grill pan lightly with a little of the olive oil. Lay the plaice fillets skin side up in the pan. Brush the skin lightly with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Slice the fennel: Prepare the fennel while the grill heats up: reserve any fronds for garnish, cut the bulbs in half, discard any tough core and then slice them finely. Separate the slices into thin shreds and put them into a bowl. Add the spring onions, capers and remaining olive oil. Mix well.
  4. Cook the plaice: Grill the plaice for 3-4 minutes or until the skin is beginning to brown. Turn the fillets using a fish slice. Grate the zest from the lemon, or use a zester, and sprinkle it over the fish. Cut the lemon into eight wedges and arrange them in the grill pan. Dot the butter over the fillets and season. Grill for 1-2 minutes or until the fish is firm and just cooked.
  5. Flavour the couscous: Toss the couscous with the fennel mixture and divide it among four warm plates. Add the plaice and hot lemon wedges. Pour over the cooking juices and serve immediately, garnished with fennel fronds.

Alternatives to plaice:

Try this recipe with megrim. It's another flat fish from the turbot family.


For plaice, try some of the following: trout fillets, (you will need 2 per portion if they are small); hake steaks or fillet portions, allowing 2-4 minutes cooking on the second side; portions of skinless salmon fillet, allowing 2-3 minutes cooking on the second side.

…flavoured butters for fish

Make and freeze savoury butters to add instant flavour and a sauce to grilled, steamed or baked fish. Mix the butter with the flavouring, shape it into a roll about 3cm in diameter, wrap in cling film and chill until firm. Slice the roll into 5mm thick slices and open freeze, then pack in a bag. To use, add one or two slices to each piece of cooked fish – the butter will melt to make a tasty sauce. With 250g softened butter, try the following ideas:
*the grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 6 tbsp chopped fresh parsley.
*1 tbsp English mustard and 4 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon.
*2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger, 2 chopped spring onions and the grated zest of 1 lime.
*1 seeded and chopped fresh green chilli, 4 tbsp snipped fresh chives and 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

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