Whole Turbot - What A Fish

The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market just started selling whole turbots from the cold shallow waters around Greenland. After eating at Elkano in Getaria, Spain and having Aitor explain the parts and textures and flavors of the fish in detail while he's filleting it at your table, it's hard not to have a new found appreciation for the fish. I wish I could say that I did it as much justice as Elkano did, but then again, I don't have a grill outside and I haven't acquired the skills from grilling and filleting local fish for decades.

What I did have was the gorgeous looking fish from the fish guys and a simple recipe from the London Times. I actually kept it even more simple than the recipe by omitting the hollandaise sauce.

- one whole turbot (about 3lbs), gutted
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- fresh parsley (small handful)
- 5 to 6 slices of lemon
- 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the turbot with salt and pepper on both sides and add parsley and 2 to 3 slices of lemon in the cavity.  Grease a large roasting pan with butter and add the turbot with the dark skin side upwards. Pour the wine over the fish and dot the top of the fish with knobs of butter, slices of lemon, and some sprigs of parsley. Cover the fish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes (at least that's what the recipe says). After 25 minutes, check the fish, because the middle of the fish was still cool when I checked on it. It ended up need about 35 to 40 minutes for it to be cooked through.

Fillet the fish in the roasting pan. Make sure you portion out meat from the dark skinned side and the light skinned side so that you can taste the difference between the two. But don't forget the other parts since you have the whole fish. Dig out the cheeks, pick out the bits of gelatinous fish around the fins, basically make sure there is no flesh left at all. You'll find you just can't stop eating it.

Side Dishes:
Simple boiled potatoes with butter and fresh parsley and a green vegetable such as beans work really well. Just keep it simple, the emphasis is really on the fish.

Wine Pairing:
Domaine de la Bongran (E J Thevenet) 2002 Cuvee Tradition Quintaine.  A great price at my old stomping grounds, Chambers Street Wines. A wonderful French chardonnay with some residual sugar, rich, creamy, honey, good balancing acidity, tropical fruit, lovely texture. Excellent with the turbot.


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