Sautéed John Dory with artichokes, tarragon and lemon
Gastronomically speaking John Dory is held in as high regard as turbot, brill, Dover sole and sea bass. I would say that is has to be the most expensive fish in the sea and that the best fillets of Dory come from the larger fish. I think it is only when the fish get above 1kg in weight that their flesh comes into its own. However fillets from small Dory are wonderful as part of a plate of mixed fried fish and are also a perfect company alongside mussels, monkfish, clams and gurnard in a fish stew. My pals Nigel and Martin who founded Channel Fisheries, the renowned fish supplier to many top restaurants and the Royal household, tell me that Dory don’t really have a season, they just turn up, so it’s a case of not really planning this dish but more taking advantage of the John Dory showing an appearance.
8 small artichokes, trimmed and sliced top to bottom
Juice of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
750 g/ 1lb 10 oz John Dory fillet (refer to the yield table here, you will see how expensive John Dory is!)
A pinch of dried oregano
½ glass dry white wine
100 ml / 3 fl oz double cream
Small handful of fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
First prepare the artichokes. I like to use young, small artichokes that can be cooked very quickly, however globe artichoke bottoms would work fine as do some of the grilled artichokes in oil that are so readily available in many of our shops these days. Remember if you are preparing fresh artichokes to place them in water with a squeeze of lemon, this will stop them from discolouring and turning black.
In a large sauté pan, add some olive oil, gently fry the onion and garlic until soft but not golden, then add the artichokes and a splash of water and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Remove everything from the pan and set aside. Add a little more oil and when hot season the Dory fillets with a little salt and pepper and fry for 3-4 minutes on either side until golden.
Add the artichoke, onion and garlic mixture, sprinkle in the oregano. Add the wine, turn up the heat and allow the wine to reduce by at least half. Then add the cream and tarragon, season with salt and pepper and finish with another squeeze of lemon. The sauce should be quite thick.
When serving I like to have nothing else on the plate with this dish as I think the artichoke and Dory are a wonderful combination and make a fabulous lunch. If the season is right I will often add fresh peas or broad beans halfway through cooking.