Roast Turbot, Mussels, Artichokes and Jelly of Verjus, Turbot and Langoustine Royale, Velouté of Button Mushrooms
Specialty Equipment: water bath, digital thermometer, vacuum machine, thermomix, pressure cooker
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, gellan LT100, gelatine 170 Bloom, transglutaminase, vitamin C, sodium citrate
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Reading the introduction to this recipe it’s clear this dish is a celebration of much loved ingredients by Mr. Blumenthal. There are paragraphs on mussels, button mushrooms and turbot. Although not my top favorite ingredients, I do love these three. Button mushrooms in particular, slowly cooked in butter until caramelized are incredible. Ceps may have, for me, the slight edge on button mushrooms, but I do agree with Heston that these humble mushrooms are underrated.
As clear as the introduction is, so confusing is the stuff that follows. Just like the dried onion rectangle from the Sole Veronique, I had a hard time figuring out how the hell this fish course is composed. The pictures in combination with all the components of the recipe were difficult to decipher and only when making it I could figure out what the photos in the book represented.
To start resolving the mystery I started with the turbot and the langoustines. The turbot has to be filleted and the resulting fillets stuck together with transglutaminase. In contrast to Dover sole, which has larger sized fillets on the topside and smaller sized fillets on the other end, turbot has one large filet on the top and one on the bottom. In the photo on the left were the smaller pieces of fish.
Attaching the pieces with transglutaminase.
When taking the shells of langoustines it is handy to remove the intestinal tract, so there is no need to cut open the flesh. You can do it by twisting off the central fan from the tail, but what I do is first crack the shells, remove the upper part and pull out the flesh while pushing down on the tail end (see arrow).
Next up were the mushroom and langoustine/turbot stocks for the royale and the velouté. This is the part that first confused me, cause all the pictures I saw online didn’t include this separate part from the main plate. With the fish the restaurant serves a gelled langoustine/turbot/mushroom stock, with a turbot/mussel velouté and poached langoustines. This also explains the first photo in the book, which is a macro shot of the royale.
Making the turbot and langoustine stock by first frying langoustine shells, second the vegetables and then cook everything with turbot bones in a pressure cooker.
Mussels for their juice.
Mushroom stock made from caramelized button mushrooms, Madeira and thyme. Cooked, again, in a pressure cooker.
The top pan contains the velouté made from the fish stock, mushroom stock, mussel juice and herbs. The pan below houses the mix for the royale made from the fish stock, mushroom stock, cream, milk and herbs. It is finished with the gellans and gelatine, ending up with a heat resistant jelly, which can be submerged in hot velouté.
This is a jelly taken out of the mould a day after we ate the dish. I didn’t have enough time to let the gelatine fully set, so the jelly on one of the last pictures of this post (of the same day I made this dish) had a bit of a rough appearance.
The verjus jelly, made from verjus, grape juice, sodium citrate and gellan F. It is comparable to the cacao jellies from the Cauliflower Risotto, adding bursts of flavor facilitated by the gellan.
The vegetable garnish are braised artichokes. I can say I never cook them myself. I like eating them, bur for some reason I never prepare them. Oh wait, maybe the fact they are a pain in the ass to prepare has something to with it. They take on every opportunity they can get to discolor, so you have to use surgical precision to block all the possibilities for discoloration. To clean them I cut off the top of the leaves, removed the outer tougher ones, trimmed the stalk and the area between the stalk and the leaves.
I must say I didn’t make the chicken stock for the braising liquid or use any vegetables. I started cooking in the early afternoon the day before Easter and I also had to cook loads of stuff for that day, so I was to say the least pressed for time. The artichokes being one of the last preparations meant they had to make due with Gewürztraminer, water and store-bought chicken stock for the braising.
I went with the look of the artichokes as pictured in the book, not as the picture of the restaurant on the top of this page, where they appear to be more heavily trimmed.
To provide a foundation for the artichokes the recipe instruct for fine slices of mushroom, which have to be frozen and cut into neat rectangles. I trimmed the mushrooms before slicing them, so I didn’t have to do it when they were shaped in a rectangle.
To finish the preparation you have to make a vinaigrette with chervil oil, made by blending chervil, parsley and oil in a thermomix set at 90˚C for 7 minutes.
My one deviation from the recipe were the langoustines. I like sautéed langoustines much better than poached (just like lobster), so prepared them in a pan instead of a water bath. A small note, a handheld milk frother is really handy to emulsify liquids and give an aerated texture.
Now, to finish everything. To plate the side dish I unmoulded a royale, added a few pieces of langoustine and poured over some velouté. I garnished it with tahoon cress (instead of pea shoots) and chervil.
For the main plate of food I cooked the turbot at 50˚C in a water bath (took about half an hour), prepared the mussels, added the vinaigrette, laid a slice of mushroom carpaccio on each plate, laid mussels and artichokes along it, sautéed the cooked pieces of turbot and garnished the plate with the verjus jellies. I complete forgot the tahoon cress, although I had picked them and they were ready to use.
I was not satisfied with the finishing touches, the plate could have been more elegant, but flavor wise it was incredible. The fish was flaky, juicy and tasty. But the highlight, for me, may have been the verjus jellies. They explode in your mouth and work wonderfully well with the other components. Just like the Sole Veronique the dish feels so light with lovely acidic notes. I didn’t really like the salmon with liqourice, but the other two (main) fish courses are incredible.