02 December 2005

Fish fillets and endives

For those who thought the black-eyed pea cassoulet was a little fatty and rich, how about this idea: braised Belgian endives and poached fish fillets. Belgian endives are a standard and plentiful winter vegetable here in France. In the U.S., the same thing is sold as a luxury product, and is much more expensive. But Belgian endives are so good, I think, that it's worth the high price once in a while.

The Belgian endives I bought at the SuperU market in St-Aignan last week were €1.15/kilo. That's about sixty U.S. cents a pound. I think they cost 5 to 10 times as much in the States. Belgian endives, among other good foods, are why I decided to come live in France.

Anyway, it dawned on me the other day that the way I cook endives, which is to braise them in a little butter, a good amount of lemon juice, with a little white wine and a couple of garlic cloves in the pan, sounds like it would also be a good way to cook fish.

So I cut the endives in half lengthwise, and put them in a pan with some butter (you could use olive oil or sunflower oil too) to brown very slightly on the cut side. Then I poured the juice of one lemon over them, added a glug of dry white wine, two whole peeled garlic cloves, and some pepper and salt. Cover them tightly and let them simmer gently for an hour or more, until they are very tender. Add a little water now and then to keep a quarter-inch of liquid in the bottom of the pan at all times.

When then endives are done, take them out of the pan and keep them warm. Add a little water or wine if necessary, and mash the cooked garlic cloves into the sauce at this point for more flavor. Place the fish fillets in the warm broth. Let them simmer gently for 10 minutes or so until they're done. Add a few capers to the pan, or some chopped parsley, and serve with the braising liquid and endives.

The slightly bitter broth from the endives, softened by the butter, sweetened by the wine, and enhanced by the lemon juice, complements the fish perfectly. I don't remember ever having endives with fish before.


  1. Hi Ken... I've never cooked endives before, but I will be soon, thanks to your enticing description and photos! A little trip to the produce market, a little trip to the fish house... a little glug of wine for the endives, a little glug of wine for the cook... Yep, a fine Saturday evening coming up!


  2. Hi Ellen, this really is a good meal. Just cook the endives long enough so that they get really tender. They're much better that way, and they hold their texture anyway.

    The weather here has turned much warmer, finally. Today we had wind and rain, but it was nearly 20 degrees F warmer than it had been for weeks.


  3. Un p'tit truc que tu dois connaître... Pour enlever l'amertume des endives (aussi appelés "chicons" dans le nord de la France et en Belgique), ôter un cône à la base de l'endive... Voir "Le Grand Robert" : "2. Régional (Belgique). Endive (dite aussi chicorée de Bruxelles ou Witloof)"

    Ta recette est originale ! Quand ouvres-tu un restaurant ;-) ??? Bises. Marie

  4. No, running a restaurant is not in my future. Much less working in one. Cooking is too much fun to risk making a full-time job out of it.

    I bought more endives this week so I'm looking for some more original recipe ideas. Gratin d'endives (au jambon) is always good. And endive salad with red beets or toasted walnuts (or both). What else? Back to the books for ideas.

  5. I hadn't really read your post about endives before writing mine -- you do indeed give some of the price information I was curious about. I've been living in France so long I'm a little out of touch with some questions...


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