“À l’anglaise” is just a fancy way of saying “English-style” in French. It really has little to do with actual English cooking, but refers to the way that the French imagine English cooking to be – in other words, plain and boring.
The term à l’anglaise is used without much consistency. In general, it means food that is prepared very simply and presented with no sauce more complex than melted butter. Sometimes it means boiled; other times, it means turned in bread crumbs and fried. In this case, we mean the latter – one of the classic methods of preparing fish fillets.
As usual, we’re not satisfied in doing things in the usual way. It’s spring and we’re celebrating the arrival of ramps, AKA wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), the boldly flavored wild member of the onion family that grows prolifically across much of eastern North America, with a range that stretches from Appalachia into the southern Canadian provinces.
Ramps are not cultivated, but are harvested from the wild, and have only a relatively short growing season of a few weeks at most. Originally celebrated as a spring tonic and folk food, ramps have become a must-have ingredient in recent years, appearing on restaurant menus from coast to coast.
One of our favorite ways to spread the flavor of ramps across a wide array of dishes is by the use of a ramp-infused compound butter. It’s easy to make, even easier to use and keeps for weeks in the refrigerator (months, in the freezer). Ramp butter’s amazing flavor is wonderful when smeared on breads and biscuits or dolloped on potatoes and pasta, but it makes an even better sauce as it melts over crisp-fried fish fillets prepared à l’anglaise.
True to the definition of the phrase “à l’anglaise,” this is a dish made simply and presented with a sauce of melted butter. We say “simply wonderful.”
Cod a l’Anglaise with Ramp Butter
- 4 fillets of Atlantic cod or Pacific rockfish, about 6 ounces each or 1 1/4 pounds total
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup flour
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp cold water
- 2 cups Panko or bread crumbs
- 3 Tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil, plus more as needed
- Ramp Butter (see recipe below)
Season the fish on both sides with a little salt and pepper.
Dredge each piece of fish in flour to coat evenly on all sides. Beat the egg with the water. Shake the excess flour from each piece of fish and dip in the beaten egg to coat well. Allow the excess to drain off briefly, then turn in the panko or bread crumbs so each piece is completely covered. Place the crumb-covered fish fillets on a baking sheet or large plate covered with wax paper, then gently press with your fingers to make sure the crumbs adhere well to the fish.
Heat the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high. When the oil is hot, add a few fillets in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the pan; cook the fish in batches if necessary. Cook the fish for 2 -3 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown, then turn and cook another 1 – 2 minutes on the other side until crisp and golden brown.
Transfer the pieces of fish to a warm platter as they are cooked. Continue cooking, adding a little more oil as necessary, until all of the fish is done.
Slice 1/4 inch thick rounds of ramp butter from the log and place a slice on each fillet while the fish is still very hot. Serve immediately.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 5 or 6 medium ramps (wild leeks) with greens
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Clean the ramps, removing the root and trimming off the greens. Chop the white parts & stem finely. Slice the greens into thin strips. Place the cut ramps, butter, salt & pepper into a food processor and pulse until completely incorporated, but with some bits and pieces of the greens intact.
On a clean work surface, lay out two pieces of plastic wrap, each about 8 x 12 inches in size. Divide the butter mixture in half, and using a spatula, spoon about half of the butter evenly along one edge of each piece of plastic wrap. Gently roll to form a cylinder. Twist the ends until a uniform round log is formed. If air bubbles form, prick the plastic to allow the air to escape. Refrigerate for two to three weeks or freeze for several months.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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