Turbot in Salt Crust
Absolutely elegant, moist turbot is sauced with a leek-cream sauce scented with bitter almond, and garnished with peppers, onions, and peas. Toasted almonds crown the fish. The fish is cooked in a salt crust and arrives at the table still in the crust. The crust is opened and the fish divided and stacked before each diner with a pepper mixture between the layers.
- Salt Crust
- Flour - 4 1/2 cups
- Large Grain Salt - 3-1/2 oz
- Water - 1 cup
- Egg Yolk - 1
- Red Pepper - 1 small, peeled, seeded, and deribbed
- New Onions - 30 small, peeled
- Green Peas - 1 cup small, shelled
- Leeks - White part of 2
- Cream - 1 cup
- Leek - White part of 1, minced
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Fish Stock - 2 cups
- Creme Fraiche - 2 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Essence of bitter almond - 2 to 3 dashes
- Turbot - 4 pieces, about 8 ounces each
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup
- Almonds - 1/2 cup, slivered and toasted
To prepare the crust:
Blend the ingredients together into a paste, adding the water gradually until a paste consistency is achieved. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To prepare the vegetables:
Cut the pepper into large julienne. Separately, lightly steam the peppers and onions until they are tender-crisp, then combine. Set aside. Blanche the peas and set aside.Chop the leeks; blanche them and drain well. Warm the cream and add the blanched leeks to finish them. Set aside; keep warm.
To make the sauce:
Melt a tablespoon of the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and add the leek. Cook just until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the creme fraiche and stir to blend; continue cooking for 3 to 4 more minutes. Cut the remaining butter into 4 pieces, and stir into the sauce with a whisk, one piece at a time. Keep warm in an insulated container.
To prepare the fish:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the salt paste into four pieces. Encase each turbot piece in the salt crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Take the fish out of the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Warm the various vegetable garnitures: melt butter in separate saute pans and warm the pepper mixture and the peas. Warm the shallots in the cream. Warm the sauce over medium-low heat and stir in the dashes of almond essence. Place four plates on four larger plates. Center each small plate with a piece of turbot, still in its salt crust. Put each garniture in a separate bowl, and the sauce in a sauce dish.
Place one plate assembly before each diner. Open the salt crusts. Separate the plates and pour a little sauce in the center of the larger plate, left before the diners. Lift the turbot out of the crust and divide into two pieces. Place one piece in the center of each large plate on the sauce. Spoon a little of the pepper mixture on each fish. Top each with the second piece of turbot. Remove the smaller plates with the remainder of the crusts. Spoon peas and three onions onto each plate. Sprinkle toasted almonds on the turbot. Spoon sauce around the plates.