Crispy fillets of fried plaice, with crunchy little gem lettuce, tossed in a piquant caper and dill dressing.
Why is it that when you go out to a restaurant for dinner and see a caesar salad on the menu it often comes with chicken? Don’t get me wrong I like a bit of chicken in my caesar salad but seafood like shrimp, salmon, cod or even place like I’m using here work well with crunchy leaves, croutons, and aged parmesan cheese too.
The original Caesar salad contains neither chicken or fish of course. It was invented by a guy called Caesar Cardini in the 1920’s. Caesar was an Italian immigrant who had restaurants in Mexico and the United States. One 4th of July his restaurant got slammed and he whipped up this dish out of what he had lying around the kitchen. I only wish I could invent a classic under such pressure.
Traditional Caesar salads got Worcestershire sauce, romaine lettuce, and croutons in it. It was tossed tableside by the chef for a bit of theatre. It’s a dish chefs have been messing around with for decades and here’s another one at it again.
I’ve forgone the croutons this time though. Instead, I crumbled some plaice in a cheesy coating of parmesan and panko breadcrumbs and fried it till crunchy and golden. The result is a crisp piece of fish with a moist and melting interior.
The fish is then laid over some young little gem leaves which have been generously smothered in a dressing that’s been given a kick by some Dijon mustard, then infused with some fruity olive oil and liquorice flavoured dill.
I wanted the dressing to be a cross between a regular caesar dressing and a traditional tartar sauce. When it comes to a good caesar salad it’s really all about the dressing. Every chef and restaurant have their own version that they swear by, but this one hits the spot for fish.
The salad is then finished with a shower of piquant capers, sprigs of dill, and flakes of aged parmesan cheese.
This fish caesar salad is easy and speedy to prepare. Most of the work is in crumbing the fish. It’s ideal for a light lunch or a late supper and you could probably put the whole salad together in about 10 minutes.
You might find strange the lack of anchovies in this recipe given that it’s a fishy version of a caesar salad. It’s really just down to my own taste. Personally, I find them a little overpowering. But if you like them feel free to throw a few on. Evan blitz some through the dressing if anchovies are your thing.
Funnily enough, the original caesar recipe had no anchovies in it. The slight hint of anchovy flavour came from the Worcestershire sauce that went into the dressing. So at least I’ve been through to the original in one way.
What’s your favourite version of the classic caesar salad?Print
- 600g (20 oz) plaice fillets, skinned and trimmed
to coat the fish
- 200g (7 oz) panko breadcrumbs
- 25g (1 oz) parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 120ml (1/2 cup) milk
- 110g (4oz) flour
for the dressing
- 25g / 1oz parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 75g / 3oz ready-made mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped
- 25g dill / 1 oz dill, finely chopped
- pinch salt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 15ml / 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
for the salad
- 2 heads little jem
- 25g / 1 oz parmesan shavings
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 small bunch of dill
to cook the fish
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- First mix together the panko breadcrumbs and the grated parmesan cheese.
- Next add the milk to the beaten egg and whisk together.
- Cut up your trimmed fish fillets into 4 equal sized portions. Than dip the fish into the flour, followed by the egg mix, and finally into your cheesy bread crumbs. Place into the fridge to set the breadcrumbs
- For the dressing, place the parmesan and vinegar into a food processor and blend until very smooth.
- Add the mayonnaise, mustard, capers, salt, garlic, chopped dill, and olive oil and blend again until smooth.
- Cut the bottom stalk off the little gem lettuce and separate out the leaves. Give the salad a quick wash in some water to remove any dirt and dry thoroughly with a tea towel.
- Next heat the olive oil in a pan over a moderate heat, and once hot add the crumbed fillets of plaice.
- Fry your fish on each side for about two minutes till golden, and then drain well on some kitchen towels. Be careful turning the fish. Plaice without the skin can be a little fragile and you don’t want it to fall apart
- While the fish is cooling down toss the little gem in a large bowl with the dressing. Make sure you get a good coating of the dressing on each leaf.
- Divide the lettuce between 4 bowls and gently place the crispy fish fillets on top. Add some sprigs of dill and finish the salad by sprinkling on the capers and parmesan shavings.
Alternative fish – cod, haddock. hake, whiting,