If you recall, last time on Name This Food! I asked you what this fish was. Well, the correct answer is TURBOT.
What is a turbot and what is the difference between a turbot and other forms of flatfish?
Turbot is a demersal fish (one that lives and feeds on or near the bottom of the sea) native to marine or brackish waters of the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
The word comes from the Old French tourbout, which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo ("spinning top") a possible reference to its shape. Another possible origin of the Old French word is from Old Swedish törnbut, from törn "thorn" + -but "stump, butt, flatfish", which may also be a reference to its shape (compare native English halibut). Early reference to the turbot can be found in a satirical poem (The Emperor's Fish) by Juvenal, a Roman poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., suggesting this fish was a delicacy in the Roman empire.
Turbot is a senistral or left-eye fish (both eyes on the left side), as are Brill and Megrim. All other flatfish (flounder, sole, plaice etc.) are dextral or right-eye fish.
Like Halibut, Turbot is a highly prized species (and often regarded as the best of the flat fish) with great flavour and firm, white flesh.
It has an almost round shaped body, studded with bony tubercles on its dark side. Colour varies from light to dark brown, spotted with green or black and a white blind side.
Turbot ranges in size from 400g to 10kg.
The texture is similar to Halibut, but it has a slightly more pronounced ‘fishy’ taste, so requires very little to enhance the flavour.
It’s also a chef’s dream, as it retains plenty of moisture during cooking, preventing it from drying out - making it ideal for functions.
Turbot are now also being successfully farmed giving good availability, and are distinguished by their lighter skin.
So, shall we have a recipe or two?
Here's one from the lovely James Martin:
Pan-fried turbot with wild mushrooms, mashed potatoes and cream sauce
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 10 to 30 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 150-175g/6-7oz turbot fillets, skinned
For the cream foam
175ml/6fl oz white wine
175ml/6fl oz fish stock
175ml/6fl oz double cream
For the mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g/8oz mixed wild mushrooms
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
To serve: mashed potato
Heat a frying pan until hot and add the butter and the olive oil.
Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place into the pan when the oil and butter are sizzling hot. Cook the turbot fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown all over.
For the cream foam, pour the white wine into a pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by two thirds, then add the fish stock. Bring back to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by two thirds.
Add the cream, bring back to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the mushrooms, heat a clean frying pan and add the butter and the olive oil. Once hot add the shallots and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the lemon juice and parsley.
Using a hand blender, blend the cream sauce until light and foaming.
To serve, place a large spoonful of mashed potato into the centre of each plate. Place a turbot fillet on top of each and spoon the mushroom mixture around the edge of the potato. Spoon a little of the sauce foam over the mushrooms and serve.
Here's a good one from Jamie Oliver:
Turbot with leeks and cider
6 large leeks
10 spring onions
3 cloves of garlic
½ bunch of fresh thyme
3 fresh bay leaves
1 x 2kg whole turbot, from sustainable sources
1 tbsp fennel seeds
200ml dry cider
40g mascarpone cheese
½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat the oven to 150C (non- fan 170C). Trim and thickly slice the leeks and spring onions, peel and finely slice the garlic, then pick the thyme leaves.
2. Place a large pan over a medium heat and add half of the butter with a splash of oil. Add the thyme leaves, bay, leeks, spring onion and garlic and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until starting to catch and turn golden.
3. Spread the softened veg in a large roasting tray. Using a small knife, slash the fish four times on each side, then place on the leeks.
4. Bash and sprinkle over the fennel seeds and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the cider around the fish and dot with the rest of the butter. Bake for 1 hour. Transfer the fish to a dish, cover with tin foil and leave to rest.
5. Place the tray with the leeks on the hob over a medium-low heat, then add the mascarpone and let it bubble away for a few minutes, or until thickened. Season.
6. Serve the whole roasted turbot on the bed of leeks. Slice and arrange the lemon on top, chop and scatter over the parsley leaves, then tuck in.
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