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John Dory Recipe
John Dory
Olivier Roellinger, Les Maisons de Bricourt, Bretagne
Olivier Roellinger, Les Maisons de Bricourt, Bretagne
Flavors of Brittany
Total time: more than 2 hours
Spice Mix: 7 - 8 hours in advance
Spicy Broth : 7 o- 8 hours in advance
Waiting Time: 6 hours
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: Under 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Chef's Note

A tribute to Mahé de La Bourdonnais

Indispensable : a couscous steamer or other large steamer


Ingredients for 4 servings
- 1 John Dory, 1.6 kg (3 1/2 lb.) or 2 - 800 g (1 3/4 lb.)
- Have the fishmonger fillet the fish. Keep the heads and trimmings.
- 1 bunch of Cress or Watercress, or better yet, Indian cress
- 1 new Cabbage
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 2 cloves of roasted garlic
- 3 sprigs of fresh Coriander or Cilantro
- 50 ml (3 tbsp.) coconut milk
- 3 sprigs of mint
- 2 mangos
- 1 apple
- 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) chicken stock
- 1 onion
- 50 g (2 oz.) ginger root
- 1/2 pear
- 1 fresh Turmeric root
- 2 handfuls of seaweed for the steaming water
- 1 tsp. crushed green Cardamom seed
- 30 g (2 tbsp.) sugar
- 50 ml (3 tbsp.) rice vinegar
Fish stock
- 2 leeks, white part only
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 small celery stalk
- 1 clove of garlic
- Thyme, parsley, bay leaf, zest of 1 orange
- A slice of fresh ginger
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) sweet wine
- 1 liter (4 cups) water

Spice Mix (7 or 8 hours in advance)
At least 7 or 8 hours in advance, prepare the spice mix. In a dry sauté pan, warm all the spices except the vanilla, cayenne pepper and lily flowers. When they are very fragrant, add the rest of the spices and blend the mixture to a fine powder in a powerful coffee grinder.

Prepare the spice bouillon
With the head and bones of the John Dory, prepare a fish stock.

  1. Roughly slice the onion and the peeled ginger. Sauté these in butter until they become translucent, then add 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of the Return to the Indies spice mix and stir with a wooden spoon.  
  2. Pour in 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) of the fish stock and let the mixture infuse at a simmer for 30 minutes with the thinly sliced lemongrass and the roasted garlic cloves.

Making the caramel

  1. Meanwhile, heat the sugar to make a caramel. When it's a light golden colour, add the cardamom, and then the rice vinegar to stop the cooking. Finally, add the chicken stock. Let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the two infusions and add the mint and fresh coriander, then the coconut milk. Remove from the heat and chill for at least 6 hours.


  1. Discard the large outer leaves of the cabbage, separate the other leaves, remove the largest ribs, and cut into 0.5 cm (1/4") strips.
  2. Peel the apple and mangoes, removing the seeds and pits, and cut into 1 cm (1/2") dice. Cook, covered, to make a compote, then uncover at the end to reduce the liquid.
  3. Wash the cress and remove the biggest stems, keeping the little bunches.
  4. Peel the turmeric and ginger and cut into tiny dice (wear gloves, as turmeric stains the hands). Blanch them separately.
  5. Peel and cut the pears into small even dice (called "matignon"). Squeeze lemon juice over the dice and toss to prevent them from discolouring.

Final preparation

  1. Divide the fish fillets into four equal portions; cut into two or three pieces each. Set aside on a plate under plastic wrap.
  2. Place the cabbage in cold water and heat to cook al dente, then keep warm in a pan with a knob of salted butter. Warm the mango compote. Warm the spice infusion. Add a few pieces of fresh butter, mixing with a whisk, to give it roundness. Check the seasoning.
  3. Place the seaweed in the water of the steamer. When it boils, cook the fillets in the upper part of the steamer, with the outside against the basket. This is how the aroma of the sea penetrates best. The water should come to a rapid boil for about 3 minutes.

To serve

  1. On each plate, place the cress on one side, the buttered cabbage on the other, and a
  2. spoonful of compote at the top. Place the fillets asymmetrically on the plate. Using the tip of a knife, place a little diced pear on each fillet. Season with a little fleur de sel.
  3. Finally, place a few sprigs of coriander on the compote.
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