I caught this on a recent fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. The first mate of the boat laughed at me when I told him I was going to filet it and take it home. “No one eats these fish, they are not even good bate fish”, he said. Well, if I take a fish out of the water then I am going to eat it. Some research has been done, and more needs to be finished. I know this fish is a part of the Jack family, a stunningly good family of fish when fresh and cooked right. So more to come about this elusive and seemingly useless fish!
— matt bolus
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.
I have found an interest in black garlic and like many things I start researching I have found a desire to make my own. The research I have done has yielded recipes that start at aging the garlic in caves for months on end and end with custom built boxes with lights, fans, thermostats, and viewing windows. The best, or most common I should say, recipe I found was to keep the garlic at 140 F for 40 days. While simple this is not the easiest task to accomplish. First of all what is the heat source? Remember you are not going to be able to use it for 40 days. Second what heat producing equipment can stay on for 40 straight days with no problems? After testing my crock pot, which we hardly ever use, I found that on a low setting it will hold a temperature range of 138 F to 160 F. So with 12 head of garlic I am starting the 40 day process of black garlic. I placed some aluminum foil on the bottom of the dish in an attempt to keep the garlic from directly touching the vessel itself. Humidity seems to also be a dilemma is the production of black garlic in that you don’t want to lose any moisture as the garlic ferments. I have covered the top of the pot tightly with cling film and inserted a thermometer so I can monitor the temperature. The garlic has been on the heat for all of two hours now and all I can smell is roasting garlic in the house.
Here is a fun look at what a Jimi Hatt and I do on our spare time!
Filed under Books, Brown Sugar, Butcher, Buthering, butter, Canning, Charleston, Cooking, Cream, Garden, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Pickling, pork, Potatoes, Radishes, Salt Curing, Travel, Uncategorized, Vegetables
This post came about in two ways. The first, was when my local farmer Joey Barnes form Barnes Produce at the Nashville Farmers Market brought me this gigantic zucchini looking vegetable. The only reason he brought it to the restaurant is because he had never seen anything like it and wanted to see what we could do with it. Neither of us knew what it was exactly (besides a zucchini on some NFL style vitamins) but he had been told that people cut out the seeds and stuff it with meat and then roast it. I of course thanked him for the unusual and told him that I would update him on what we did with it and how it tasted. Well it happened that we needed a large amount of roasted squash and zucchini for a party menu and thus it ended up in a nice medium dice roasted with bacon fat, shallots, thyme, and mint. Overall it tasted lovely but I was disappointed at the fait that it had met.
The second point comes with the annual review of the canning recipes and the desire to start making pickles, jams, and other various projects to put the summers bounty away for future use. My wife Kelly had been reading a canning book that sparked my interest. While looking through the index of the book, which I often start with, I noticed a recipe that I could not believe was possible. It was a canning recipe for “Pickled Marrow and Onions”. How could this be? You mean to tell me that you can pickle and can beef marrow with onions? That has to be delicious, or disgusting, depending on who you ask. Well the answer quickly came when I turned to the appropriate page. The recipe called for vegetable marrow, which I of course not only did not expect but was disappointed to see. I then realized that I had never heard of “vegetable marrow”.
Research on the web led me to discover that vegetable marrow, also known as a marrow vegetable, was a zucchini type vegetable. Originally cultivated in England, these vegetables can grow to be the size and weight of a large pumpkin. They are also notorious for having a bland flavor and are traditionally stuffed with meat of some sort and roasted whole. Then it dawned on me that I had not only seen this vegetable but had just recently turned it into a mere fast saute. What a shame. The next one I get will not experience such a meager fate I promise. The picture here includes a common power socket in an attempt to show the actual size of the marrow vegetable.
Filed under Books, Canning, Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Marrow Vegetable, Matt Bolus, Pickling, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Zuchinni
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