The John Dory, aka St. Pierre, is one of my all time favorite fish in the sea. I first encountered this magnificent fish while working for Dave Blagden (a fourth generation master fish monger) at his shop Blagden’s in London. While the shop is unfortunately now closed, the lessons and appreciation of this fish continue on.
The John Dory got it’s English name from the French, Jaune Dore or golden yellow. Hard to tell from this picture but the fish, especially in their younger age, actually have a golden yellow color in the water. Also hard to tell by looking at this picture is the amount of armor this fish carries with it. All around the perimeter of the body, just below the fins, are cleverly disguised spikes or horns if you will. And what holds these spikes to the body are what must be bullet proof oval plates that over lap each other. There is also one spike, along with razor sharp edges, just at the outer most point of each gill. This armament is rumored to be the reason for the name St. Pierre or Saint Peter’s fish. The legend goes that Saint Peter himself, the patron saint of fishermen, taught fishermen how to pick up the fish without cutting their hands by grabbing them just behind the gills to avoid all the spikes. Because Saint Peter grabbed the fish in this manner all John Dory have a distinctive spot in this area (I know you can’t see it in this picture, but trust me it is there).
John Dory are typically found in the Atlantic Ocean around Europe as well as in the Mediterranean Sea. Cleaning them is obviously not easy. Though they swim like a round fish they actually have a bone structure similar to that of a flat fish such as Halibut or Flounder. The first thing to accomplish when cleaning this fish is to cut under all of the plates that surround the fish. This can be done in two ways. The first, and my preference, is to cut underneath them by inserting your knife under the plates from the the body side, meaning from the outside of the fish. The second way is the cut all of the fins off, down to the plates, and then filet the fish from the outside. I find that cutting all the fins off, while possibly safer, takes far to much time. Not to mention you have to have scissors durable enough to complete the task. Either way, once this is accomplished remove the filets as you would over filet any flat fish, many filets can be cut into two pieces. The one bad thing I have to say about this fish is the yield. From my experience you are only going to obtain a 35% to 40% usable filet from the over all weight of the fish. None the less this fish is worth it. The texture of the John Dory is amazing, silky smooth yet durable. It is the sexy cousin of the Swordfish. Not quite a steak like texture but not flaky either. The flavor is delicate and sweet and will take on most flavors it is cooked with so I limit it to salt, butter, thyme, and lemon juice.
— matt bolus
Filed under Acid, Bottarga, Butcher, Buthering, butter, Cooking, Fish, Fish Eggs, Fish Roe, Flavor, Herbs, Ideas, John Dory, Lemon Juice, Matt Bolus, Thyme, Uncategorized
I received these beautiful local chestnuts yesterday from a lady just down the road from my house. I have been playing with chestnut ideas for a few years now since my parents have a true fruit bearing American chestnut tree.
Such a beautiful example of the American Red Snapper. There will be those that confuse this with any old red snapper and that is unfortunate. This fish is amazing. The flesh is flaky and white with the slightest taste of the sea. For the true seafood lover this is definitely a fish to seek out. In saying that I do not mean deep-fried. I like any good culinarian appreciate, devour a perfectly deep-fried filet of fish, but this is not the one to do that to. This fish needs to be pan seared or grilled on a well oiled grill. In the pan I have to suggest finishing with a small slice of butter, fresh thyme, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Just a quick baste and you will love it forever.
— matt bolus
This is picture from last year, but why not. This is a perfect example of what happens when chefs get excited about food. Fresh black winter truffles combined with the best black truffle juice creates perfection on the most simple of dishes.
Filed under Black Truffles, Canning, Charleston, Cooking, Cream, Heavy Cream, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Truffle Juice, Truffles, Uncategorized
After featuring our sweet potato puree at several public functions we have had multiple requests for the recipe. I also want to add that when we call it a “puree” it really is no different from mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes are not as starchy as their Idaho cousins and can be put into a blender to add all the goodness to them without taking on a gummy texture. This is one of the most simple recipes and changed my life with sweet potatoes forever.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 6. Do nothing to the sweet potatoes, leave the skin on, do not coat in oil, do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until very soft. The time it takes to cook the potatoes will of course vary according to where you are at geographically speaking, the size of the potatoes, and whether or not you oven is a conventional oven or a convection oven. It should take roughly 30 minutes to completely cook a medium to medium large size sweet potato. Once the potatoes are cooked through take them out of the oven, have your blender ready. Working quickly and carefully remove all the skin (should peel off very easily) and put the flesh into the blender. For every sweet potato that you cook you will need to have ready 1 1/2 Tablespoons or 3/4 ounces or 22 grams of cold butter and a pinch of salt. Add the butter to the potatoes and season with salt. I don’t use pepper with this recipe but you can of course change it how you would like to. Puree the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly combined and the texture is velvety smooth.
Let me know how you like it. I have also added vanilla to the mix in the form of either extract or scraped beans. This will sweeten the end result so be careful with what you are serving it with. I have also added dark brown sugar and Tabasco sauce (in copious amounts) with great results; a sweet and spicy potato.
— matt bolus
Filed under Brown Sugar, butter, Charleston, Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Kiawah Island, Mashed Potatoes, Matt Bolus, Potato Puree, Potatoes, Red Sky, Restaurant, Seabrook Island, sweet potatoes, Uncategorized
I was at my local cheese shop the other day looking around for a few cheeses to plate up for a friend coming into town that afternoon. As I looked around I noticed some butters stacked up in the side of the cooler. I inquired about the kinds of butters they offered. I am always looking for a good butter to cook with. We Americans unfortunately have not been able to purchase butter that is of the up most quality in the grocery store until recently (I know some of you in bigger cities have been but I am living in Charleston, South Carolina and sometimes we take things a little slower). What I found was butter made from goats milk.
Interesting I thought, how does it taste? The owner told me it was rich with a slight taste of fresh chevre. Let’s discuss this word, chevre, for a moment. Since I started in this industry until I went to a French culinary school I thought the word “Chevre” meant goat cheese, or cheese from goats milk. Actually it really means “goat”. In France if you own a goat then you own a chevre. I guess it just makes me laugh a little every time I think of someone asking for fresh chevre at a restaurant knowing that they are literally asking for a fresh goat. Then I have to quit laughing because I do the same thing. Sometimes literall translations should never be researched or known.
Goats Milk Butter
I had to try it, expensive as it was. After my first taste I was on a research crusade to find out all the information I could on this heavenly new butter. I have been for sometime now trying to create a brioche out of yellow beet powder and goat cheese. Until know I have not figured out the proper combination of butter with fresh chevre, and the beet powder with flower. This discovery has taken away half the equation as I plan on using nothing but the goats milk butter for the entire recipe. The butter is not the easiest thing to make I have found. Yes, to answer any questions out there, I have already purchased some fresh goats milk that I plan on trying to make butter with this weekend. Goats milk is naturally homogenized, which means the cream does not readily separate from the milk. Most producers use a fancy separator to accomplish this. I, in fact don’t have a fancy separator (though I do have a centrifuge that I have thought about trying this process on). So I am going to hope for the best and use the the milk as is, whisking it in the mixer and watching the results. I have also purchased some organic heavy cream with a plan in mind to increase the fat content of the milk in an attempt to force it to make butter. We will see.
Anyway back to the butter. The flavor is perfect (especially for those who love fresh chevre), it is rich and creamy with less of a coating feel than that of cows milk butter. The flavor is mildly of fresh chevre but just enough for the fans to recognize (or for those who don’t like it to ask, “what is that exactly that I am tasting?”). One of the most interesting facts of the cheese is that it is stark white just like goat cheese, no yellow tint at all.
Beautiful White Goats Milk Butter
In fact I found one method of making goats milk butter that suggested adding food coloring so the end result would look like regular butter. I have to ask though, if it is regular butter that you are after why would you even be attempting to make butter from goats milk? After all the research I found the brand pictured at the Earth Fare grocery store here in town. The price there overall was not bad, I paid $3.99 for an 8 ounce block. Clearly more expensive than regular organic butter but the use of this ingredient are worth it. Just think of the perfect French veal stock based sauce finished with goats milk butter. This would add a new depth to the sauce, not to mention acidity, saltiness, and richness.
— matt bolus