Easter Sunday - itching for fish...
Went to the Fish Market and found a beautiful "arrivage" of turbot, one of my favourite fish and quite rare to find in Sydney, as it is a cold water fish and is usually imported from New Zealand.
The young Indonesian lady who served me pointed me first towards the Yellowbelly flounder, but I had no intention to settle for this cheap cousin of the Dover sole and even more so with a load of beautiful turbots next to them.
But this young lady was not your ordinary sales attendant, just there to earn a wage and improve her cash position while attending Uni.
She actually asked me why it was better and how you should cook it.
So while some of her colleagues back of house was filleting my turbot, we engaged in a short and concise cooking lesson. So this post is for her.
Although I didn't prepared a "beurre blanc" (literally "white butter") today - I just poached the fish and added a drop of Lebanese virgin olive oil after removing the skin - I thought I would show you some of the steps I took to cook this beautiful fish and my usual side of braised fennel.
And I will add two videos found on YouTube, one in French, one in American, illustrating two different methods to prepare a "beurre blanc".
First thing first, you need to prepare a "court-bouillon' - literally a "short boil":
Take an oven dish, fill it halfway with hot water, add bay leaves (laurel), pepper corns, cloves, and some sea salt
and put it on the stove and bring to the boil.
In the meantime, start preparing your vegetables: slice some oignons, red peppers and a couple of fennel bulbs.
Throw some of the leaves in the cout-bouillon and keep some in the pan with the vegetables.
Get a saucepan with a thick bottom, pour a little extra virgin olive oil, bring to sizzle, add the onions and peppers first and cook for five minutes. Add the fennel, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat and cover
Then, if you were to prepare a "beurre blanc', you would do that now, during the 15-20mns it takes for the fennel to cook - more on that later.
So here is the French video on how to prepare a "beurre blanc"
Note the simplicity of the ingredients: shallots, vinegar, white wine, salt, pepper and...butter
I would use some from "Echire" (available in Sydney at Harris Farm, midly salted, so don't add any more salt...)
or you can use the unsalted Lurpak from Denmark, available both at Coles and Harris Farm.
You need some rich butter to get the "fluffiness" right. The butter needs to be at room temperature.
Now. let's have a look at the American version. I let you watch and then, I will make some comments...
Altough the French recipe is labelled "easy" (facile", it is actually the American version which is not as challenging, because the butter doesn't need to be at room temperature - the recipe is done on the stove - and as a result, you need to add cream, so the butter doesn't risk to "split" due to the heat.
Besides, adding cream changes the taste and makes it less refined, espacially if you have access to real butter!
The advantage is that your sauce will be still warm enough when you serve.
The french version needs to be rehated on a "bain-marie" until you are ready to serve.
Now, let's see what we do next with the turbot:
Remove the heat from the cout-bouillon, wait for the boil to stop and then immerse the turbot fillets gently in the court-bouillon. depending on the thickness of the fillets you may need up to 10mns to cook them through.
By now, our fennels should be almost ready: add a little water, put the heat up with no cover, so all the juices from the olive oil and the vegetables get to caramelise a little - don't burn it!
It shouldn't take more than a few minutes, so now it is time to share some oysters and a glass of wine with your guest! Turn the heat off, cover up and enjoy yourself.
It is finally time to assemble your main course: gently remove a fillet of turbot from the court-bouillon, add some fennel on the side and serve immediately. Serve the beurre blanc separately for each guest to use to their own preference. Add a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil on the table for people who would prefer. Enjoy!!!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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