This is a classic French technique and how we cooked all our fish to order back in my days at Pierre's Restaurant in Wellington. Use a trimmed plate-size fillet per person. Using a large pan you can cook several fillets at a time.
1 Melt a little butter in a pan.
2 Cook the fillet base side down till the fish is "rare" and turn the fillet to just seal the top.
3 Remove from the pan and keep the fish warm.
4 Deglaze the pan with a capful of white wine or vermouth or, if you are heading in an aniseed direction, a splash of pernod.
5 Turn up the heat, add 2 tablespoons of fish stock (recipe below) and reduce until nearly syrupy.
6 Pour in any of the fish juices that have drained from your resting fish.
7 With the heat still high, add about 2 tablespoons of cream and whisk the ingredients together. This will only take a minute or two, so be watchful; the sauce has a potential to split.
8 Just before pouring the sauce over the fillet, add finely chopped, chives, parsley, dill or fennel. Serve with some plain boiled potatoes and simple greens.
You may want to make your own fish stock in these recipes. It is the quickest of stocks to make, and you can make a big batch and freeze it in smaller portions for future use. If you go fishing, freeze all the bones you have left after filleting until you have time to make stock. Good fish shops can also supply you with fish frames and heads.
1 Rinse your fish bones, heads and trimmings in cold water. Avoid including too much skin; the fat layer that sits below the skin will muddy your stock.
2 In a large pot add a bay leaf, parsley stalks, a sprig of thyme, a few peppercorns, diced celery, carrot and white onion. Sit the fish frames on top of this and cover with cold water. On a gentle heat, simmer for 20 minutes. Do not stir, just let the water bubble through the ingredients. Skim off any debris that forms on the surface. Remove from the heat and allow to settle.
3 Carefully drain off the stock. You can pass this through a fine sieve or muslin for a clearer result.