lemon sole with capers, achovies and parsley brown butter

the problem i used to have with going to the gym was the amount of time it took. all that pointless cardio and even more pointless machines. it feels like i spent too many evenings in air-conditioned rooms lit with strips of neon. it makes me want to weep when i see people do it now. weep of boredom, that is.

funny places, gyms. (by gyms i don't mean the body builder's basements in local neighbourhoods.) in your average virgin active or LA fitness, most people have no idea what they're doing and a lot of personal training is not just money for old rope but downright dangerous.

as for the punters...well, most girls just tend to waste time in classes to which they go week in, week out, never looking any different for it. blokes are worse - they think they're strong but they're just one half-arsed squat away from a spine or knee injury. it makes me feel like going round and correcting people and all i know i've learnt from two books and the odd crossfit video. which is better than men's health, i suppose, but still...

my new gym strategy is little and often. rich has always done this though i suppose he manages to cram in a lot more in half an hour by virtue of not being 'disabled', as my GP once called it (i prefer spazzy - www.hypermobility.org). last night all i did were some tabata sprints on the bike (4 mins), a 5 minute climb on jacob's ladder (you think it's easy - it's not, it makes me want to vomit), three sets of deadlifts, some stretches for my ever-dodgy shoulders and thoracic spine, and that was about it.

i suppose what i do goes against the idea that for exercise to be effective you have to balance with one foot on bosu ball, lifting a kettlebell in one hand while simultaneously being stretched by your trainer. in fact, i blame the rise of semi-amateur personal training for the widespread belief that this has to be complicated and involve fancy equipment. the truth is, most guys (it's usually guys, let's be honest) you see who look like they work out generally do pretty basic stuff.

anyway...the point of this rant is to say that not wasting time in the gym means you have enough time to cook a decent dinner when you get at home. we did consider stopping off for a japanese but i knew there'd be an abel&cole delivery waiting at home.

and what an exciting delivery it was - some fat pork belly slices, a bright orange summer squash, acid pink radishes and rainbow chard, beautiful lemon sole fillets - soft, suede-like grey with rusty spots - and, best of all, a little box of heirloom tomatoes. i got inordinately excited about those and decided that nothing more should be done with them than a simple tomato salad.

a word about tomato salads (actually, two words): never, ever keep your tomatoes in the fridge as they will taste of nothing at all, and always season generously, especially with salt, and leave the whole thing to stand for a little while.

flat fish like lemon sole is pretty versatile but we decided to go for a simple and quick recipe of basically frying it in clarified butter. it's funny how i now don't flinch when the recipe includes a huge slab of the stuff. before i would have given up altogether or used olive oil - which would have been a waste of time as the whole point of this recipe is butter.

i'd encourage you to try this - it was lovely. the fish was spanking fresh - you could see the edges curl when it hit the hot fat - the sauce both buttery and sweet, and salty and sour from the capers and anchovies. i could have eaten more, and i was forcing myself to eat slowly.

for two

100g butter
6 lemon sole fillets
6 anchovy fillets, coarsley chopped
3tbs capers, drained and rinsed
juice of half a lemon
a large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

clarify the butter first - melt it slowly in a pan over low heat, then pour away the oil leaving the milky solids behind. you won't be able to get it completely clear but that doesn't matter.

season the fish fillets with pepper and a tiny bit of salt (don't forget the anchovies and capers are both pretty salty). heat half of the clarified butter in the pan and, when it begins to foam slightly, fry the fillets for 2 minutes on each side. you might have to do it in two batches - we did - in which case, keep the cooked ones warm somewhere.

in the same pan, add the rest of the clarified butter and turn up the heat. add the capers and the achovies to the pan and cook until they are nutty brown. turn the heat off, add the lemon juice and the parsley and stir.


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