John Dory, cabbage, barilla

John Dory, cabbage, barilla

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
4

John Dory is an amazing dense-textured fish with an incredible sweet and fatty flavour; its thin fillets are best cooked on the bone to retain maximum flavour and texture.

The name is said to derive from the French words jaune d’or, meaning golden yellow – which I like to believe, as its olive-yellow hue is often a good indicator of freshness. It is also known as Saint Peter’s fish, the legend being that the patron saint of fishing taught fishermen how to pick up the fish without cutting their hands on the long sharp spine, by grabbing it just behind the gills. In picking it up, Saint Peter pressed his thumb and forefinger to the skin, creating its distinctive black spot. Given that John Dory has never swum in the Sea of Galilee, this is a much harder leap of faith. Either way, the fish uses its beauty spot to its advantage, scaring off predators when they approach, meaning there is all the more John Dory in the sea for us to enjoy.

In Spain we used to eat cabbage sautéed with garlic and chilli both as an accompaniment to fish and as a dish in its own right. Here the flavours are re-created on the grill, with the cabbage taking on an amazing sweetness, which complements the dory beautifully.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 whole john dory, approximately 2kg
sea salt
1 baby spring cabbage, shredded finely
1 leek, tender part removed and cut into 5 mm dice
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
200ml robust, zesty extra-virgin olive oil, such as picual, plus extra to drizzle
1/2 bunch chervil, picked and finely chopped
50ml cava vinegar
100g barilla (native spinach), picked and washed

Method

  1. 1. Prepare your embers.
  2. 2. Scale and gut the fish, and remove the gills and head. Rinse quickly and dry well.
  3. 3. Season the cavity of the fish with sea salt, then place the fish in an enclosed grill rack. Grill one side of the fish approximately 10 cm (4 in) above evenly distributed embers for 8–10 minutes.
  4. 4. Turn over the enclosed grill rack and grill the fish on the other side for a further 8–10 minutes, until beautifully caramelised.
  5. 5. Transfer the fish to a clean tray, season well with sea salt and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. 6. Meanwhile, toss the cabbage and leek together in a bowl, then grill in a fine-mesh sieve until lightly charred and just cooked. Season and dress with lemon zest and juice, a drizzle of olive oil and chervil.
  7. 7. In a small saucepan, gently warm the olive oil and pour it over the fish. Put the vinegar into the pan and strain all the juices from the fish into the pan. Heat the liquid, whisking continuously, allowing an emulsion to form.
  8. 8. Arrange the grilled cabbage and leek on serving plates and place the fish on top. Pour the emulsion over, finish with the barilla and serve immediately.
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