3 tbsp (40g) unsalted butter
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1½ tsp flaked sea salt
1 tbsp plain flour
2 thick shoulder or mid-fillet pieces of cod, pollock, or coley, about ⅓ pound (170g) each, skin left on
For the parsley sauce:
1½ tbsp (20g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (15g) plain flour
1 cup (250ml) full-fat milk
¼ cup (20g) mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Grating of nutmeg
2 tbsp double cream
5–6 tbsp finely chopped fresh curly parsley
Flaked sea salt
Ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 430°F/220°C/gas mark 7.
2. To make the parsley sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook out the dry taste of the flour for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, taking care not to burn it. Then start adding the milk, bit by bit, until you have stirred it into a smooth sauce whose texture resembles that of double cream.
3. Stir in the cheddar, mustard, and nutmeg and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the cream. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a splash more milk, or reduce it if it seems a little thin. It should have a consistency only a little thicker than pouring double cream. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
4. In a frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and fry the bacon.
5. Mix the sea salt with the flour and press the fish fillets into this, skin-side down (do not flour the flesh side). Pat off any excess flour. Lower the fillets into the pan, skin-side down, and fry for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is browned and crispy, taking care to turn the bacon.
6. You may have had to remove the bacon from the frying pan by now if it is getting close to burning. If so, keep it warm.
7. If your frying pan is ovenproof, transfer it to the oven. Alternatively, transfer the fish to a small baking tray and then into the oven. Cook for 5–7 minutes or until only just cooked through.
8. Just before serving the fish, rewarm the sauce. Stir in the parsley at the end so that it does not become discolored.
9. To serve, ladle a few spoonfuls of the parsley sauce onto two plates, place the fish on top, and arrange the bacon over the fish.