200ml fish stock
pinch of saffron threads (about 8)
1 bunch asparagus
100g broad beans (shelled)
100g fresh peas (shelled)
12 fillets of sand whiting (skin on)
1 tablespoon butter
sea salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons light olive oil
½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs
2 sprigs of chervil, finely chopped
2 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped chives
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
On the day before, bring the fish stock to the boil. Add the saffron threads, remove from heat and allow to infuse overnight in the fridge.
For the crispy herb crumbs, rub a tablespoon of the light olive oil into the breadcrumbs and spread as evenly as possible on a flat oven tray. Toast in a moderate oven until golden and crisp (3–4 minutes). Add the chopped chervil, parsley and chives, some sea salt and pepper and mix well.
To prepare the vegetables, trim or break the asparagus to remove the woody bases of the stalks. If the stalks are still long, you may want to cut the asparagus in half or thirds. Blanch the peas, beans and asparagus in boiling water; strain and refresh in iced water; and set aside.
Bring the saffron-infused stock to the boil in a pan which fits a steamer on top. Steam the mussels open over the boiling stock. Remove the mussel meat from 8 of the mussels, reserving 4 shells with meat for garnish.
For the fish, rub skin with sea salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of light olive oil in a medium-hot pan. Place fillets skin-side-down in the pan. When cooked through (takes about 1 minute), turn the fillets and remove from heat straight away. Keep in a warm place.
Add the vegetables to the hot saffron reduction. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the tablespoon of butter in to the saffron vegetable mix. Add the mussel meat.
To serve, spoon the vegetables, mussel meat and saffron glaze onto four plates. Stack the whiting fillets on top (3 per plate). Garnish with a whole mussel on each plate. Sprinkle with crispy herb crumbs.