Brill steamed with a cider sabayon, perfect for apple season

Brill is a flat fish, and often thought of as a sweeter and cheaper alternative to turbot, while a sabayon is similar to a hollandaise and easy to make. The dry cider and Tabasco in this recipe provide balance.

The skin on a brill is quite tough. Take it off gently after the fish has steamed or suggest that your guests do so for themselves. Test the fish to see if it is nearly ready; it should be opaque and you should be able to lift off a flake gently using a fork.

A note on seasonality: the brill we eat in the UK mainly comes from the North Sea. Although brill is thought to be abundant the Marine Conservation Society advises avoiding small, immature brill (less than 30cm) and eating them out of their breeding season which is spring and summer. They can be caught throughout the year and are best at from September to December, or roughly, cider making time. Parsnip mash or steamed broccoli would go well.

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Brill. Picture courtesy Jonathan Crouch

Serves 4

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes.

Cooking time: 15 minutes


Brill fillets (200g) x 4
Egg yolks x 3
Dry cider 150ml
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper


  1. Season the fillets and steam them for about 15 minutes. This timing will vary.
  2. Test the fish to see if it is nearly ready. Use a fork to see if opaque and you can lift off a flake.
  3. Take the fish off the heat.
  4. Heat a saucepan of water nearly to the boil.
  5. Turn the heat down to keep the temperature of the water steady.
  6. Whisk the eggs and the cider in a bowl.
  7. Place the bowl over the hot water and keep whisking, getting air in by lifting the whisk (without making it spray). This will make the sabayon rise. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon:
  8. Add tobacco and lemon juice to the sabayon and spoon it over the fish.
  9. And serve it.
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