Friends were stopping by en route home to England. A birthday lunch was called for. And the guest of honor, having seen the fish on display at my local market, made a special request: Could we please have turbot for lunch? I rose to the challenge — the main challenge having been to find a baking pan large enough to accommodate the formidable fish. I set it on a bed of thyme branches, popped it into a very hot oven — and voilà. Twenty minutes later it was all set to go. All it needed was the beurre blanc…
Turbot au four au beurre blanc / Baked turbot with creamy butter sauce
Ah, the beurre blanc. For those of you who may be wondering, beurre blanc is an emulsion of butter, vinegar and shallots that by some sort of culinary magic transmogrifies into one of the most sublime of French sauces. It is typically served with fish — and usually in restaurants, as it has a reputation of being difficult to make. That’s poppycock. It’s no more tricky than mayonnaise — all you need is a little practice. When I first tried making it about 35 years ago, I got it right on the second try (much to the astonishment of my French boyfriend). And I’ve been making it ever since. As for the turbot, it is a large diamond-shaped flatfish somewhat akin to flounder — which may be substituted if turbot is hard to find in your region. I guarantee your guests will love it. Happy cooking!
Site news: I have added a spring update to the Everyday Menus section and will update the Weekend Menus in the coming days. These include menus for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. In the process of updating, I noticed I’ve been including a lot of dishes that an everyday French chef wouldn’t make every day, but only on special occasions — for example, turbot with beurre blanc. In the weeks ahead I plan to rectify that by including more dishes that can be whipped up on a moment’s notice for the enjoyment of you and your partner, your family, your friends or just for yourself, any day of the week.
I was the birthday boy who was treated to this sublime dish! It tasted just like it looked in the photograph. Conclusion: turbot is too good to be monopolised by restaurants.