Making a whole turbot in the oven was a culinary highlight of 2014. Again one of the things we made shortly before christmas when my mother was visiting… It has become a tradition that every time she and Heinz are coming to Copenhagen, they go to one of the local fish shops in our area and bring home a “treasure” we can jointly prepare for dinner. This was already the second time, we had turbot – the flatfish is a true delicacy, with firm white meat and a slightly nutty taste. Like many other local fishes (such as cod, herring, flounders etc.), the turbot can be found in the Kattegat, the shallow waters between Denmark and Sweden, just North of Copenhagen.
Turbot can be prepared in many ways, you can fillet and fry it, or steam it, but I think it’s best when the whole fish is prepared in the oven with some herbs and lemon and served with beurre blanc (a white butter sauce), as we did. Fresh spinach and boiled new potatoes are perfect side dishes. If you want to make it that way, I recommend that you ask the fishmonger to make a long cut along the backbone and cut two pockets (one on each side), to ensure it gets cooked evenly. The turbot’s skin is very strong, almost like leather, and it takes a really good knife and a strong hand to make the cut 😉
The turbot we made was just the right amount for 6 people, but there are smaller ones, and much bigger ones (up to 1m long and 20 kg heavy), so you can choose the size depending on the number of guests and the size of your oven…
- 1 turbot (ca. 1,5-2 kg)
- 1 Lemon
- 50g butter
- Beurre Blanc
- 300ml dry white wine
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 3 large shallots
- 350g butter
- Pre-heat the oven to 175°C. If not yet done by the fishmonger, make a cut along the backbone of the turbot and diagonally cut 2 pockets, one on each side (see picture above).Season it on the outside and inside the pockets with salt and pepper, then slice the lemon, chop the parsley and stuff both into the pockets.
- Place the fish on an oiled tray and bake for ca. 40 minutes. The turbot meat should be white, but still juicy, check the status after about 30 minutes to ensure it does not get over cooked.
- While the fish is in the oven, prepare the beurre blanc (and any potential side dishes).
- Cut the butter into small cubes and put them in the freezer.
- Cut the shallots into very small dices, bring the white wine, the vinegar, the chopped shallots and the tarragon to boil. Boil until it's reduced to ca. ¼ of the quantity, then take out the tarragon and some of the shallot cubes.
- Cut the chives into thin slices.
- While stirring the slightly boiling reduction, add the cold butter pieces, one at a time. When you're done and the beurre blanc has a creamy consistency, season with salt and pepper and add the chives. Keep it warm (but don't boil it any longer) until serving.
- When the turbot is done, take it out of the oven and remove the skin. It is now relatively easy to peel it off the fish. Carefully fillet the fish, cut it into serving sized pieces and serve on pre-warmed plates with the warm beurre blanc and side dishes of your choice.