John Dory or Saint-Pierre

Not the prettiest of fish, but according to some the most delicious. Its meat is delicate, moist, dense, melt-in-your-mouth, a touch sweet and flavourful. It is one of the ingredients of a traditional Bouillabaisse.
The head of a John Dory (Saint-Pierre, San Martiño) is relatively large. Saint-Pierre is a fairly expensive fish and knowing that you will discard a significant part of it makes the Saint-Pierre even more expensive.

The shape of a Saint-Pierre could give you the impression that it’s a flat fish, but actually it’s a round fish. You will also notice that the spines on its fins look rather nasty. These two aspects make filleting a Saint-Pierre difficult. Our fish monger offered to do this for us, which we happily accepted.

Given the price (we paid €125,00 per kilo fillet) you don’t want to make mistakes when preparing it. Fortunately frying Saint-Pierre only requires a bit of patience and attention (it’s easily overcooked). 

We enjoyed our Saint-Pierre as a main course with a rich mushroom-based sauce and slow cooked fennel.

Wine Pairing

A delicious Saint-Pierre requires an equally delicious wine. We opened a bottle of Louis Jadot – Bourgogne Couvent des Jacobins – Chardonnay. The wine has fruitiness and freshness as well as structure. It has aged for some 8 months in oak barrels, giving the wine more roundness. A perfect combination with the fish, the rich sauce and the soft anise flavours of both the fennel and the chervil.
Maison Louis Jadot, producteur et négociant, based in Beaune, France, produces various quality wines from the Burgundy region and exports these to several countries including the UK and the USA.

What You Need

  • For the Fish
    • One Fillet (preferably without the skin)
    • Butter
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Sauce
    • Champignons de Paris
    • Butter
    • Cream
  • For the Slow Cooked Fennel
    • Fennel
    • Olive Oil
  • Chervil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Remove the outer leave(s) of the Fennel, slice top down in 4 or 8, making sure the fennel doesn’t fall apart. Warm a pan, add some olive oil and cook on very low heat for some 6 hours. 8 is also fine. Turn halfway to make sure both sides are caramelised. In parallel, do some shopping, read the papers, watch your favourite series on Netflix and be patient.
A John Dory fillet is really special, without any trouble you can divide it into three parts. One small, the other two perfect. Heat a small skillet, add some butter and fry the quartered mushrooms until golden. Reduce the heat, add cream and heat through and through. Heat a bigger skillet, add some olive oil and butter, gently fry the fillets until brown and nearly done. Transfer to the oven at 50 °C or 120 °F. Fill a glass with water, add the creamy mushroom mixture to the pan and immediately add some water. The sauce will thicken quickly so you need your glass of water on standby. Add some black pepper and lots of chervil leaves. Mix. Happy with the sauce? Now it’s time to plate up. Some sauce, the John Dory on top, the quartered fennel, some extra black pepper and more chervil.

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