How to Poach a Turbot
Until recently, turbot was a fish that few of us had seen. It is the second-largest flatfish, only halibut being larger. It can reach a length of 3 feet. In the wild, it swims exclusively on the other side of the Atlantic where it rivals sole as the ultimate fish deluxe. What makes it so appealing is its firm white flesh.
When taken from a large wild turbot, it can produce fillets over an inch thick. Turbot is never cheap. Fortunately, turbot is now farmed. It is relatively easy to track down in the United States. It’s easily filleted. The technique is the same as for any flat fish. It makes a dramatic sight when poached whole.
The problem with poaching flat fish, is the need for a poacher that fits the fish. There are such things, called turbotières. They can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. It seems they come only in copper. To get around this, I rigged up my own flat fish poacher by cutting a cake rack to the size of my largest roasting pan. Then, I strung strings on the ends to act as handles.
When Poaching Any Fish…
It’s ideal to prepare a vegetable stock called a court-bouillon. Given that this means chopping onions, leeks, carrots, and fennel, in a pinch it’s okay to just use salted water flavored with a large bouquet garni containing plenty of thyme and parsley. Bring the water or strained court-bouillon to the simmer in the roasting pan.
Put the fish on the rack and slowly lower it into the simmering liquid. Control the temperature so that the fish is in barely moving liquid. Poach for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. When the fish is ready, lift up the rack with the string handles and transfer it to a cutting board for filleting. ~ James Peterson
A Quick Note
This recipe was a unique submission Jim created and shot especially for Browne Trading Co. from his home studio in Brooklyn, NY. Just days after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in November 2012!
Here, he uses our Spanish Turbot. This fish was a little under 4 pounds in weight. Yielding a little under 2 pounds of fillet prepared, it serves 4-6 people. – Nick Branchina