Turbot fits many peoples idea of the ideal fish. Similar in appearance to Brill but with distinctive little sharp lumps on their upper side acting as a mild form of armour.

Ingredients

Firm textured, highly flavoured and white fleshed, turbot is certainly one of the best fish to eat. As with any fish, freshness is key. If you are buying a turbot, it will be expensive and you need to be sure it is of the best quality so that you get value for the money you are spending.

Serves 4

  • 1 turbot, c 1.4kg in weight
  • Salt

Sauce Beurre Blanc

  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallot
  • Pinch of coarse ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cream
  • 6oz/170g cold and diced unsalted butter
  • Lemon juice to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4
  2. Place the turbot, dark side up, on a sturdy chopping board. With a sharp knife, remove the head if you wish, being economical to remove just the head and not too much of the lovely flesh that surrounds it.  
  3. Have a look at the fish now and note where the skin meets the "frill" all the way around the edge of the fish. Starting at the top of the fish, near where the head was, cut through the skin, into the flesh, just inside the "frill" and continue all the way around the fish.
  4. The cuts on either side of the edge of the fish should meet and overlap at the tail, forming an X. This facilitates the easy removal of the skin after cooking.
  5. Give the fish a good wash being particularly careful to remove the little blood clot at the top of the backbone.
  6. Put 5mm of water into a shallow baking tray or roasting pan and slide in the fish. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the skin. Place the fish in the preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
  7. To test if the fish is cooked, insert a knife into the thickest part of the flesh at the head end. The flesh should be white and firm with no trace of pink, and willing to come away easily from the bone. Watch the water level in the tray during the cooking, topping up the water a little if the pan looks like it might go dry.
  8. When the fish is cooked, you can leave it on the tray in the oven with temperature lowered to 50c / 100f / gas ¼, for up to 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the skin from the turbot and with a fish slice remove the fillets to a hot serving dish or plates. Using your fish slice, flip the fish over.
  10. Remove the soft white under skin, and continue to remove the flesh as neatly as you can. Coat the fish with some of the warm sauce and serve immediately. Serve any surplus sauce in a warm sauceboat.

Sauce Beurre Blanc

  1. Place the wine, vinegar, shallot and pepper in a non-reactive saucepan. Boil gently to reduce the ingredients to ½ tablespoon.
  2. Add the cream and allow to bubble up. Heat control is the key here. If the pan is too hot the sauce may split and if it is too cold it may become greasy.
  3. Keep a little water close at hand and if the sauce starts to look strange add a dessertspoon of the water and keep whisking. Whisk in the cold butter a few bits at a time.
  4. Gradually it will begin to thicken lightly and start to look like a sauce. Continue until all the butter is incorporated. Draw off the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste.  
  5. The salt transforms it. Now strain out the shallots. Keep warm in a bowl of barely simmering water, a warmed flask or a shelf over your cooker.