10 April 2016

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

John Dory, or: don't judge a fish by its intimidating appearance! With its big face, piercing eyes, and large downward-angled mouth, it is rather stern looking, and definitely not the prettiest fish in the sea. Yet, it's the same features that lend it such authority and personality, and for me he is definitely one of the most interesting and tastiest. 


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

It might be a little unsightly, skinny and all-jawand difficult to handle with its sharp fins and long spikes, but it is extremely delicious. Its almost bone-less flesh is beautifully white with a firm and meaty, but slightly flaky, silky smooth texture, with a delicate, sweet flavour. Need I say more? 

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

John Dory, lat. Zeus Faber, from French 'jaune d'or' = yellow golden, and referring to the beautiful colour of this salt water fish, is also known as St. Peter's Fish, or San Pierre,  Petersfisch, just to name a few of its local translations. This name is thanks to several legends: one says that 2000 years ago the apostle Saint Peter, patron saint of fishermen, taught the people how to hold the fish from the top, avoiding injury through the sharp spines surrounding the fish, placing his thumb and finger on the flanks behind the gills. Another says that he held the fish in the same spots when removing a gold coin from the fish's mouth that he had dropped into the Sea of Galilee. There are a couple of others it seems, but in all legends Saint Peter left his thumbprint on the flanks of the fish, visible as a big dark spot behind the gills. Unfortunately my pictures neither show the golden colour nor the spot very well, but if you are interested, check out Mick's Marine Biology blog. He has taken some fantastic photos showing both. He has also provided the perfect description for the looks of the John Dory: 'haughty'. I think that says it all! :-) 


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Elize Acton wrote in her 1845 best-selling cookery book 'Modern Cookery for Private Families', "The John Dory, though of uninviting appearance, is considered by some persons as the most delicious fish that appears at table." And I could not agree with them more. And hey, covered under a layer of nicely browned potatoes, that will prevent the fish from drying out in the oven, it becomes even presentable. We like it with garlic, capers, parsley and white wine, but I'm sure it will also be nice with Mediterranean herbs. The potatoes take on the flavour of the fish, parsley and wine during baking, and are delicious as side with the fish. 

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

... and the finished dish gets even better with a little olive oil sprinkled over the top... or so says my Italian Gordon Ramsay :-)

Recipe Source: found, as well as lost, on the big Internet
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Serves 2-4
1 whole John Dory, app 1 to 1.8kg, whole, cleaned and fins removed (a big part of the John Dory is head, back bone and bones!) 
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into thin rounds
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into pieces
handful flat leave (Italian) parsley
salt
freshly milled black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
small glass of white wine


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Wash the fish inside and out with cold water then pat it dry with paper towels . Season the outside and cavity with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Put a large bunch of parsley and several pieces of garlic inside the cavity. Rub the whole fish with olive oil, and drizzle also a little bit inside the cavity.

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES


Put the potato slices, capers and garlic pieces into a large oven-proof dish, season with salt, drizzle with olive oil and toss until the potatoes are evenly seasoned and coated.

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Move the potatoes to the side of the pan, then put some parsley leaves in the middle.


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Place the fish on top of the parsley, then cover the whole fish with parsley.


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Cover the fish with the pre-seasoned potato slices, slightly overlapping, until completely covered. If you cover the whole pan surface, it will prevent the fish even more from drying out.

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Pour a small glass of white wine into one corner of the pan, then cover the pan with alu foil.


OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOESOVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Bake the John Dory in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, after which time the potatoes should be soft - test with a small sharp knife. If not, keep on baking with the foil until soft. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are nicely browned around the edges. Meanwhile warm your dinner plates. 

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOESOVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Serve immediately on warmed plates: remove the potatoes from the fish onto the heated dinner plates. Remove the skin from the fish, then gently remove the filets and put them on top of the potatoes. Decorate with the cooked parsley leaves and capers, and drizzle with the pan juices.  

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOESOVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

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OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES



OVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOESOVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOESOVEN-BAKED JOHN DORY WITH POTATOES

Serves 2-4

1 whole John Dory, app 1 to 1.8kg, whole, cleaned and fins removed (a big part of the John Dory is head, back bone and bones!) 
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into thin rounds
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into pieces
handful flat leave (Italian) parsley
salt
freshly milled black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
small glass of white wine

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Wash the fish inside and out with cold water then pat it dry with paper towels . Season the outside and cavity with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Put a large bunch of parsley and several pieces of garlic inside the cavity. Rub the whole fish with olive oil, and drizzle also a little bit inside the cavityPut the potato slices, capers and garlic pieces into a large oven-proof dish, season with salt, drizzle with olive oil and toss until the potatoes are evenly seasoned and coated. Move the potatoes to the side of the pan, then put some parsley leaves in the middle. Place the fish on top of the parsley, then cover the whole fish with parsley. Cover the fish with the pre-seasoned potato slices, slightly overlapping, until completely covered. If you cover the whole pan surface, it will prevent the fish even more from drying out. Pour a small glass of white wine into one corner of the pan, then cover the pan with alu foil. Bake the John Dory in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, after which time the potatoes should be soft - test with a small sharp knife. If not, keep on baking with the foil until soft. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are nicely browned around the edges. Meanwhile warm your dinner plates. Serve immediately on warmed plates: remove the potatoes from the fish onto the heated dinner plates. Remove the skin from the fish, then gently remove the filets and put them on top of the potatoes. Decorate with the cooked parsley leaves and capers, and drizzle with the pan juices.

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