Christophe Bacquié, Hôtel du Castellet, France
All About John Dory > Enjoying raw or en papillote
I love John Dory, but to really appreciate it, you have it give it only minimal cooking. As soon as it sees the skillet, it's done! Otherwise it turns very dry and loses all its lovely qualities.
Cooked briefly in a skillet with a little olive oil, it can be served in a fish broth flavored with a touch of tomato and given a bit of acidity with some sumac (a sour spice that replaces lemon). John Dory is a very delicate and fine fish that should not be prepared with a lot of spices. The preparation must be subtle in order not to mask its flavor.
If you want to forego the oil in the pan, use the papillote or parchment packet method. Add a little preserved lemon, a little tomato, a basil leaf and a spoonful of light stock or water. Always begin with fish that has warmed up slightly, not one right out of the fridge. Allow two hours for it to reach a temperature around 10° C. Place the parchment packet into a non-stick pan and cook just until it puffs up from the contact with the heat. Turn off the heat and let rest. It all depends upon the thickness of the fish. You have to be flexible. There are John Dorys that weigh 3-4 kg, in which case the fillets will be thicker. When you open the packet, sprinkle the fish with a pinch of fleur de sel and a little Espelette chili to taste.
In the summer, serve with grated raw zucchini, thinly sliced on a mandolin, dressed with olive oil and a little lemon juice at the last minute if you wish - it's tasty and refreshing.
Consider, too, serving John Dory as carpaccio or tartare. Chop a John Dory fillet by hand, add some finely minced shallots, flat-leaf parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. With a nice arugula salad and some shaved Parmesan, you've got a wonderful and really simple dish.
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