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John Dory

John Dory1

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


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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.


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Filed under Canning, Chestnuts, Cooking, Fall, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Sous Vide


Green and Purple BasilJust a quick look at our basil plants in the garden. The green is just a store bought plant (Lowes or Home Depot, I don’t remember) and the purple came from my Aero Garden. I planted them together to see how they would do and if there would be any change from cross pollination. I haven’t seen anything as of yet. None the less it makes for a beautiful look to the garden.

What is interesting though, is when you look at the purple basil leaves up close. Kelly showed this to me in a picture she took. All the purple leaves have a bright green edge.

Green edge of purple basil leaf

–matt bolus


Filed under Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Uncategorized

Coriander Seed

I love cilantro. To me it says summer, Mexican food, bright, fresh, bold, all things I like in foods. The ironic part of it all is that the cilantro plant (as it is known in North America) does not like the hot summers of Charleston. I have tried to grow it for three years now with no luck. I do have a new variety from a local nursery that they call “Charleston Cilantro” that seems to be doing quite well. From what I understan it is a native to Aisa called Rau Ram, but more on that latter. This year my plants survived long enough to flower and are now producing seed, which we all know as “Coriander”. This is much more exciting to me than most as I love to not only know, but to be able to experince how foods are grown and harvested. I have allowed the plants to flower and produce seed and am anxtiously awaiting the time at which I can pull the seeds, dry them out, toast them, and use them to cook with.

Cilantro before flowering

Cilantro plants before flowering.

Cilantro flowers

Flowering cilantro plant.

Cilantro seed forming

Coriander seeds forming under the flowers of the plant.

I have used coriander in many a dishes from a simple seared Ahi tuna to a complicated but delicious curry. With this new experience I will now have a better understanding of how the ingredient is grown and harvested which leeds me to a better knowledge of what to expect when I order the spice from my purveyor. It also makes me wonder how good a cilantro vinegar or even a coriander vinegar may be?

–matt bolus

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Filed under Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Uncategorized, Vinegar