Salt ling with razor clams, bacon and onion and bay purée

Salt ling with razor clams, bacon and onion and bay purée

British Seafood
David Loftus

A few years ago I prepared this dish for a nerve-wracking demonstration to 300 chefs in London. I wanted to show that something as unsophisticated as ling is good enough for any menu, not merely a cheap fish to bulk out fish cakes. It worked a treat. The razor clams and seaweed bring the dish to life with their different aromas and textures, and the onion and bay purée give it a rich finish.


Quantity Ingredient
4 ling fillets, skinned and pin-boned
8 razor clams, well rinsed
4 tablespoons sea salt
50ml white wine
olive oil, for cooking
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Quantity Ingredient
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
6 celery sticks, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
100ml Roast fish stock
50ml double cream

Onion and bay purée

Quantity Ingredient
50g unsalted butter
2 large white onions, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
400ml bitter beer

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
200g sea beet or spinach
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, grilled and chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
Crispy seaweed


  1. Lay the fish fillets on a tray and sprinkle evenly all over with the sea salt. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour. Wash off the salt under cold running water and pat the fish dry on kitchen paper. Wrap each fillet tightly in cling film and chill for at least 2 hours to firm up.
  2. For the onion and bay purée, heat a medium pan, then add a drizzle of oil and the butter. Sweat the onions over a medium heat, stirring, until coloured. Add the bay leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes, then pour in the beer and reduce right down, almost to nothing. Tip into a blender and blitz until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. To cook the razor clams, heat a wide, shallow saucepan (that has a tight-fitting lid) over a medium heat. When hot, add the razor clams and white wine and clamp the lid on. Cook for 2–3 minutes to steam the clams open. Remove from the pan and let cool a bit. Clean the clams and cut into 1cm pieces, reserving the juices and shells. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Next make the sauce. In a saucepan, sweat the shallots, garlic, celery and carrot in a little olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the fish stock and cook until the carrots start to soften slightly. Add the cream and reserved clam juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Keep warm.
  5. To cook the fish, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, then add a drizzle of oil. When hot, place the fish in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip the fillets over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Take off the heat; the fish will finish cooking in the residual heat.
  6. While the fish is cooking, heat a little olive oil in a saucepan, add the sea beet and cook for 2 minutes until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, gently reheat the onion and bay purée. Spoon 2 tablespoons into the centre of each warmed plate. Reheat the sauce and add 2 tablespoons of the purée, the clams, bacon and chopped parsley. Lay the reserved clam shells on the plates and spoon in the clam mixture. Spoon the sea beet alongside and place the fish on the purée and sea beet. Finish with the crispy seaweed.
British Seafood
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