Turbot for Beginners

So there was some nice looking wild turbot on sale at Whole Foods Market. It was a fish that I didn’t know anything about, but I was game.
Research for turbot lead to a highly complementary article in LaRousse Gastronomique
from which I discovered the highly prized turbot is “a flatfish living on the sandy pebbly beds of the Atlantic” with a long culinary history. It’s been nicknamed roi du carême, king of Lent. Turbot à l’impériale, cut into slices, poached in milk, arranged with crayfish tails and coated with a truffle sauce, was prepared for Napoleon. Although it has many famous recipes, many considered it best cooked simply grilled or poached. The caution is to make sure it is not overcooked or it will lose its flavor and texture.
For fish Rick Stein is always the guy to look to. In Rick Stein’s Complete Seafood he gives three turbot recipes, all of which sound amazing, but for this first time going with the simplest one, Myrtle’s turbot, seemed best to really taste the turbot itself. The recipe originally calls for a whole turbot with the skin on both sides. I had a half pound fillet with the skin on one side so I had to modify the cooking times, and unfortunately I didn’t have the chives he called for in the original recipe.
Not to worry. The turbot was delicate and rich at the same time with a firm flaky texture that dissolved like buttered mousse in the mouth. The butter, herbs, and cooking juices add a touch of flavor without overwhelming the dish and would compliment boiled potatoes on the side. Delicious.

Myrtle’s Turbot
serves 2

8 oz turbot fillet
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
A few sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Season fish with salt and pepper. Place fish in roasting pan and pour in enough water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the fish. Bake for 12 minutes until the internal temperature is 145F.
In the meantime mince the herbs. Gently melt butter in a small pan, stir in the herbs, and set aside.
When fish is cooked remove it from the pan and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Reduce the remaining cooking juices to a few tablespoons and add to the herb butter.
Pour the sauce over the fish and serve.

Adapted from Rick Stein.

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