Turbot with Hollandaise Sauce

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

The turbot kettle, or turbotière was one of the most prestigious pieces of equipment in the country house kitchen Downton’s is usually in the background on a shelf, but it does appear on the kitchen table in a few scenes Designed specifically for this one fish, it’s a large, diamondshaped copper pan that has a rack, much like a standard fish kettle Turbot was an expensive fish and was almost always cooked and presented whole, and hollandaise was a classic accompaniment, one that was regularly served at Downton It’s a hollandaise beginning to curdle that Alfred rescues for Ivy in season 3. This recipe, which uses fillets, can be done with any firm white fish, and the sauce is also a traditional accompaniment for salmon If you do happen to have a turbotière, however, a poached whole fish is always impressive Incidentally, the UK pronunciation of turbot is always with a hard final t.


For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 fresh tarragon sprig or bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons (75 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 4 skin-on turbot or other firm white fish fillets, each about 6 oz (170 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter


To make the sauce, combine the vinegar, peppercorns, and tarragon in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until reduced by half, 2–3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.

Put a cube of the butter in the top pan of a double boiler over (not touching) gently simmering water in the lower pan. (Or rest a heatproof bowl in the rim of a saucepan over simmering water.) Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl, add it to the melted butter, and whisk together. Then add the remaining butter, a cube at a time, waiting until each cube melts and is whisked into the mixture before adding the next cube. Continue to whisk until all the butter is fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened, then remove from the heat, whisk in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming.

Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and place them, skin side up, on a plate. Sprinkle the skin side evenly with the salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Select a heavy-bottomed frying pan large enough to accommodate the fillets in a single layer, add 2 tablespoons of the butter, and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fillets, skin side down, and cook until lightly browned, 3–4 minutes. Turn the fillets over and cook the flesh side for 2 minutes. Flip them back over so they are skin side down and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. When the butter melts, tilt the pan, then use a spoon to collect some of the melted butter and spoon it liberally over the fillets three or four times. At this point, the fillets should be just cooked through. If the sauce has cooled, reheat it gently over simmering water, whisking constantly. Serve the fish with the sauce on the side.

DAISY: Oh my god! What’s happened?

DAISY: It’s curdled and it’s got to go up in a minute! Oh my Lord!


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