24 October 2018

La Dorade royale

One morning this werk I stopped in at a poissonnerie — a fishmarket — and I saw these beautiful fish called « dorades royales » on display. Fish are poissons [pwah-sawn] in French. The young man who was selling and preparing fish for customers told me these fish were wild, not farme-raise7d, and very fresh. I decided to buy one. He cleaned and filleted it for me. Each fillet weighed about 250 grams (half a pound) and cost about 11 euros. That a little rich for my blood but we really wanted to eat some nice filets de poisson.


The dorade is called a "sea bream" in English, but it has no name in my dialect of English (the coastal North Carolina brogue). We don't have such fish in our waters back there, as far as I know. The out-going, well-versed fish guy assured me they were about the best fish he has in his shop these days. They come from the Atlantic Ocean waters off the western coast of France. This particular species, Sparus aurata, is called the "gilt-head bream," I gather. A related fishes caught in U.S. waters are the "porgy," the "scup," and the "sheepshead." I know we had sheepshead in N.C. waters.


I cooked the fish fillets skin-side down very carefully and very quickly in butter with just salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. When they were almost done, I turned off the burner and turned the fillets over, covered the pan, and just let it sit for two or three minutes. The fish was not under-cooked. I had already peeled and boiled some potatoes and steamed some spinach. Dinner was served.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, my that looks good! Worth the price.

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  2. I second what Chrissoup said.

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    1. Hope he weather is cooperating!

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    2. Il fait un temps absolument splendide. Aujourd'hui, on aurait dit un 15 juillet au bord de la mer.

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  3. One of my favourite fish....
    it is thought that this is the real St. Peters Fish not the John Dory....
    both have the thumb and fore finger marks...
    however, Dorade Rotale is native to the Med....
    the closest that John Dory get to the Holy Land is the Western Mediterranean.
    This is my favourite of the two!!
    And it is now being farmed in Greece... it would appear from the pub!

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  4. Fresh, wild caught fish costs a fortune but there is nothing like it for taste.

    I am guilty of the sin of envy this morning, rather than gluttony, because I want an outgoing, knowledgeable fishmonger in my neighborhood. There haven't been any for years.

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    1. We don't have a poissonnier in Saint-Aignan or in Noyers-sur-Cher. But we do have a poissonnier who comes to town from the Atlantic coast, near the Ile d'Oléron, on Saturday mornings for the weekly open-air market. We are happy to get cockles, clams, mussels, and good fish from them, even though the prices are sky high.

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    2. I've found that the distribution of good fish is excellent in France, even in places well away from the coast. While not that many villages seem to have a poissonier, the fish vendors that come to the weekly markets always have a large selection of very good looking fish.

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    3. Nowhere in France is more than about 300 miles from a coast, and most places are much closer. Saint-Aignan is only 150 miles from the nearest coast (the Channel up north). The fishmonger that comes for our Saturday market is based near the Ile d'Oléron, about 175 miles southwest of us.

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  5. I used to get Dorade every chance I got when in France. Then my local fish market here in Maine started carrying it regularly. I think that it's always farm raised, from Greece and maybe elsewhere in Europe. I've always cooked them whole on the grill, but seeing this picture I think next time I'll cook fillets in a pan. It's one of the best fish there is, even farm raised.

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  6. Beautiful fish and dinner!

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  7. The fish in the first photo are so attractive, they look silver plated. Glad you enjoyed your dorade meal.

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  8. Those related fish names bring to mind Porgy and Bess, as well as Sheepshead Bay in NY. Porgies are not to be confused with pogies, menhaden, which are generally bait fish; not sure how far south they extend.
    Your cooking method produced beautiful results, and I'd say they were well worth the splurge.

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  9. Looks like a plate that could be from any Paris Bistro? Oui ou non?

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