Turbot

Psetta maxima (Linnaeus)

Appears in

Family Scophthalmidae

  • Portuguese: Rodovalho, Parracho
  • Spanish: Rodaballo
  • French: Turbot
  • Dutch: Tarbot
  • German: Steinbutt
  • Polish: Skarp
  • Russian: Tyurbo
  • Finnish: Piikkikampela
  • Swedish: Piggvar
  • Norwegian: Piggvar
  • Danish: Pighvarre
  • Icelandic: Sandhverfa

REMARKS Maximum length about 1 metre; common length 40 to 50 cm. The colour of the back matches the sea bed; sandy brown is therefore usual. The turbot has no scales, but sports bony tubercles on its body. The great breadth of the body accounts for the old Scots name Bannock-fluke (bannock being a round oatcake).

An inshore fish of European waters only, the turbot is found from the Mediterranean to Iceland and Norway; but the main fishery for it is on sandbanks in the North Sea. The numbers taken are not great, but this is no fault of the turbot – Buckland calculated that the roe of a 23-pounder contained 14, 311, 200 eggs.

CUISINE The turbot is greatly prized for its firm and delicious white flesh. It is a venial extravagance to acquire a turbotière (a turbot-shaped fish-kettle), as I did even before I owned a frying pan, with which to do it honour. Poach it whole therein and serve it with a lobster sauce if the makings are to hand. Jenny Wren (the charming and dogmatic authoress of Modern Domestic Cookery, Paisley, 1880) suggests a caper sauce and insists that the cook should not ‘tamper with the fins, which are the tid-bit of the turbot’.

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