Baked turbot with creamy butter sauce
This elegant recipe calls for turbot, a very large member of the flatfish family. If turbot is not available in your region, substitute another large flatfish — flouder or plaice, for example.
The recipe is quick — and even quicker if you can have the fishmonger open the fish along the spine and lift the filets from the bone while leaving the skin intact, as shown in the photo. This makes for easy serving.
As for the beurre blanc, this creamy sauce is one of the most refined in the French culinary repertoire. It’s not hard to make, but does require patience. If you’re in a hurry or would like to use a simpler sauce, just melt some butter with a little lemon juice and pour it over the filets right before serving.
1 very fresh turbot
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
branches of thyme or rosemary
Before preparing the fish, make the beurre blanc. Set the sauce aside in a warm place.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 8 (450 F, 230C).
Wipe the fish with a damp paper towel to remove any impurities. Pat dry.
If the fish has not been prepared as described above, do this now, using a very sharp knife.
Using a fork, mash the butter and chopped parsley together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form the butter into a rectangle or roll, and cut it into four parts. Insert one of these into each of the four flaps of the fish — between the filet and the bone.
Lightly oil a large baking pan. Lay the branches of thyme or rosemary on the bottom and place the fish on top.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes for a fish weighing 3 pounds (1.5 kilos). If the fish is larger or smaller, increase or decrease the cooking time by 5 minutes per pound (500 grams). To check for doneness, gently lift one of the filet flaps — if the flesh is still translucent, the fish should remain in the oven a little longer. If the flesh is opaque, the fish is cooked.
While the fish is cooking, cut the lemon into wedges.
Have the rest of the meal ready to go when the fish comes out of the oven. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut around the edge of the top filets. Remove the skin — it lifts off easily. Place these two filets on a serving platter or individual plates. Using a large flipper, gently turn the fish over and repeat with the other two filets.
Spoon a large spoonful of beurre blanc onto each filet, garnish with a lemon wedge and serve immediately. Serves 4.
What to serve with the turbot? Boiled potatoes are traditional, but you can also serve steamed vegetables — for example, a medley of green beans and asparagus tips, as shown in the photo at top. And of course, a fine white wine!