Pan fried fish with baby gem lettuce, spring onions, samphire and wurst

Pan fried dishes are a good thing to know how to make.  They’re fast, beautiful and all those knobs of butter do wonders for the flavour.

I made this for myself, last night after walking for too long in the windy blustery streets of Berlin.If your pans are big enough, you can make this dish for up to 4 people, but make sure your pans can get hot enough and don’t crowd your ingredients.

Lettuce (baby gem or heart of romaine) might strike you as an odd ingredient to ‘cook’ but try it and you will be surprised by the sweetness of the browned outside and the burst of juiciness from the cores, the spring onions cook quickly and add a sweet alium note (don’t be afraid to let it colour).  For all that green, pure and sweet in your pan, you need  something salty, preferably smoky.  I had some smoked fatty wurst in the fridge which turned out to be perfect but smoked bacon is an obvious substitute.

Then there’s the samphire.  I’m not sure how common place it is in Berlin but in London it was all the rage.  It’s a succulent that grows by the sea so the flavour is salty, it crunches and bursts with juices.  I often see recipes that call for it to be blanched first but honestly, it’s so small and tender that it will just overcook.  I add it to my hot pan a minute or so before I am done and find that it just warms through, darkens ever so slightly but stays perky and delicious. (By the way, I found samphire at the Rewe at Invalidenstraße 158, my little handful was €1 and really adds to the dish)

I use one pan for the fish, I let the butter turn brown by the end, which gives the fish a nutty dimension.  In another, I cook the lettuce, I don’t salt the lettuce because the smoked sausage is quite salty.

Pan fried fish with baby gem lettuce, spring onions, samphire and wurst
(serves 2)
2 white fish fillets (cod, halibut, tilapia which is what I used because it was fresh and cheap)
Baby gem lettuce (or hearts of Romaine lettuce)
samphire, very small handful
4 spring onions, cut into 4 cm lengths on the diagonal, some greens included
something hammy and smoked (I had some smoked wurst from LPG in Prenzlauerberg which worked perfectly)
60g of butter
1 tablespoon of white wine
lemon wedges

1. Take out two heavy bottomed frying pans and warm.
2. When the larger one is a little hot, toss in half the butter, add the lettuce cut side down, the onions, the wurst. Leave the lettuce to colour on one side before turning to the other. Keep the sausage and onions moving around so they don’t stick.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the other pan, when it foams, add the fish and let it brown before turning it over. Set aside and finish the lettuce.
4. When the lettuce is nicely coloured, add the samphire and move it around for 30 seconds or so. Then add the white wine, let most of it evaporate.
5. Arrange the lettuce on a plate, spoon pan juices on top, top with fish, scatter over samphire, sausage (or bacon) and spring onions.

12 Responses to Pan fried fish with baby gem lettuce, spring onions, samphire and wurst

  1. Giulia says:

    Mhhh, this looks good. I’ve never had samphire, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Reminds me of fiddleheads which will be popping up around here soon.

  2. Luisa says:

    Wow, that looks incredible. I’ve never had samphire, either!

  3. Michael L. Moore says:

    It all looks lovely! Am I right in thinking the samphire has a naturally salty flavour? I think of King Lear when I think of samphire, but perhaps now I’ll think of this :-)

    • It is salty, it tastes like a plant that grows by the sea.
      I had to look up that quote, I think when I read Shakespeare (in university) I didn’t really have an eye for details.

      • Michael L. Moore says:

        Now: the natural next question is, what can we use if we can’t get samphire? Would watercress also work, just not be as salty?

      • The major salt is coming from the bacon or smoked wurst, the samphire looks nice and adds it’s distinctive succulent taste.
        Asparagus would be nice (when it comes into season soon), cut into thick discs on the diagonal. Or even some frozen peas, quickly refreshed in some boiling water before being added to the pan.
        I think savoury dishes evolve nicely, let what you see at the markets (supermarkets) inspire you.
        Watercress would wilt but should also taste nice.

  4. Sylee says:

    The fish shop across the road from me has samphire and I’ve always eyed it but never tried it. You’re inspiring me! & incredible that Rewe stocks it — who would have thought?

  5. I have to make this soon. Looks amazing. Today I’m going to pop into Karstadt so let’s see if they have samphire which I’ve never tried.

    • Great.
      The only things I would say are
      1. Make sure the lettuce is dry, you want it to colour and if there is water on it, it will just steam and have no flavour.
      2. Pan should be hot, then the butter goes in and then the lettuce (or fish).

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