[STANDFIRST] Light and lovely - this dish will impress anyone you cook it for.

Simple, sophisticated and lip-smackingly delicious, it's the little extras that take this dish to the next level, says Simon Rogan.

"The firm white flesh of brill has a sweet taste, which marries perfectly with buttery, creamy sauces. Here, it's spiked with peppery watercress, a strong-tasting salad leaf that can hold its own against the intense flavour of the griddled asparagus. It's a really simple dish, lifted by the browned butter."


(Serves four)

For the butter-poached brill:

500g unsalted butter

4 portions of brill, about 80g each

For the griddled asparagus:

20 spears of green asparagus

Rapeseed oil

Pinch of salt

For the watercress cream sauce:

50ml double cream

100ml White Chicken Stock (see below)

150g watercress with stalks

Pinch of salt

For the white chicken stock:

3kg chicken wings

5L water

Baby watercress and cornflowers to serve (optional)


1. To make the stock, roughly chop the chicken wings and put them in a large, heavy-based saucepan with five litres of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for two to three hours, skimming occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain through a muslin-lined sieve. Keep the stock covered in the fridge and use within three to four days, or freeze and use within three months.

2. Place a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the butter and cook until it foams. Once foaming, reduce the heat and let the butter cook for another 10-15 minutes, until it reaches a very dark brown colour and has a nutty aroma. It will be extremely hot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. When cool, strain through a muslin-lined sieve and discard the milk solids. Leave to one side.

3. To make the sauce, put the cream and stock in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and reduce by half. Transfer to a blender with the watercress and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and season.

4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Peel each asparagus spear and snap off the woody part of the stem. Blanch for two minutes, or until tender, then remove and refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and leave to dry on kitchen paper. When dry, coat each spear with a drizzle of rapeseed oil and scatter a generous pinch of salt over all of them. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, add the asparagus spears and grill for two to three minutes, or until slightly charred.

5. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, bring the browned butter to a temperature of 55°C. Remove from the heat, add the fish and leave to cook gently in the residual heat of the butter for 15-20 minutes. Remove the fish from the butter and drain on kitchen paper.

6. Divide the asparagus among plates. Spoon the watercress sauce on to each plate and place the cooked fish on top. Finish with baby watercress and cornflowers, if you like.

Rogan: The Cookbook by Simon Rogan is published by HarperCollins, priced £30. Available now.