Poached Turbot with Oyster Hollandaise

The first thing I do when I arrive in France is find a restaurant that serves plainly poached turbot and hollandaise. Heaven is having a huge sauceboat of hollandaise all to myself, tasting it on the turbot, and then sopping it up with boiled Channel Island potatoes.

No other fish can compare, unless you sell your portfolio, fly to Hong Kong, and have So Mei (the flesh is a cross between turbot and foie gras). Turbot used to be scarce in the United States, but they are available now, often small ones that are still big enough to serve two.

Ingredients

  • 1 2–3 pound piece turbot
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • cups fish stock
  • 1 cup parsley stems, sage stems, other fine herbs
  • 10 medium fresh oysters, shucked, oyster juices and liquids reserved
  • 2 cups hollandaise sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 24 fingerling-style potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

Cook the oysters in their liquid for 2 minutes and drain, saving the oysters and their liquid separately.

Make a hollandaise sauce, but cook the egg yolks with the oyster-cooking liquid as well as the lemon juice. Then chop the cooked oysters and put them and the lemon zest in the finished sauce. Keep the hollandaise warm.

Choose a pan just large enough to hold the piece of fish with about 2 inches free on all sides. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan. Add the shallots, 2 tablespoons of the fish stock, and the herb stems. Cover and sweat 5 minutes over low heat, not letting the stems color.

Add the fish, black skin side down, and pour in the fish stock to cover the fish. Bring to a very low simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the fish is done, about 10 minutes. Remove the fish from the stock and drain it for a minute.

While the fish is poaching, boil the potatoes until tender, peel while still hot, and toss with the remaining butter and chopped herbs. Season and keep warm.

Take the black skin off the fish. Serve the turbot with the potatoes and the oyster hollandaise, and with boiled and buttered tiny green beans (haricots verts) if you just have to have another vegetable.

Variation

For a New Orleans or Creole flavor, add ½ teaspoon of Tabasco or other hot sauce to the hollandaise.

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