John dory with clams, buttered leek & saffron

John dory with clams, buttered leek & saffron

4 as part of a shared meal
Chris Middleton

This dish is so rich and comforting. The not-so-secret ingredient that makes it luxurious is butter! The briny flavour of the clams and the acidity of the wine pair perfectly with the sweet fish and saffron. This is definitely a dish to have a crusty sourdough loaf nearby for! I prefer the amazing New Zealand diamond-shell clams for this dish, but you can use whatever fresh clams you can get your hands on.


Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
2 french shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg diamond-shell clams, or other fresh clams
100ml riesling
3 leeks, white part only
100g butter, plus an extra 50 g diced cold butter
decent pinch good‑quality saffron
100g ghee
500g skinless john dory fillets, alternatively, you could use halibut or perch
1 handful roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Heat a saucepan over high heat and sauté the olive oil, shallot and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the clams and riesling, stir, and put a lid on. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the clams have all opened.
  2. Drain the clams into a colander set over a bowl; discard any unopened clams, but reserve the clam juice. Leave the clams to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the clams from their shells. Strain the clam juice through a coffee filter, then add the clams back to the liquid so they stay plump and juicy.
  3. Slice the leeks in half lengthways. Wash out any dirt or sand by holding the top of the leeks under running water, facing the sink, so that you don’t wash any dirt back inside the leek. Cut the leeks into 1 cm cubes.
  4. Heat a wide-based non-stick saucepan over low heat and add the 100 g butter. Add the saffron, then the leek, then cook for about 15 minutes, until the leek is just soft. Add the clams and clam juice and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat and add the ghee. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through and slightly golden on the outside.
  6. To serve

    Stir the parsley through the clams; add the cold, diced butter and stir until melted and emulsified. Check the seasoning and spoon into a large, wide bowl.
  7. Top with the fish fillets and serve with a decent chardonnay. Don’t forget the crusty bread for dipping.
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