This is French bistro at its best.
Such a wholesome, satisfying dish: you’ll be grinning at the end of the meal.
With a good bottle of white as we did, hard to fault this.
The potatoes are called bigarade which in French refers to a bitter orange known as the Seville orange. I susbstituted and it worked well: the absolutely subtle citrus flavour adds just another twist and it pairs perfectly.
3 onions, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbs olive oil
1 scant tsp thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dusting
4 x John Dory fillets, each approximately 175gm and skinned
2 tbsp canola oil
Large knob of butter
For the potatoes
675gm flourly potatoes, peeled and quartered
Freshly ground white pepper
150ml crème fraîche
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 (Seville) oranges
1 tsp caster sugar
- Boil the potatoes in salted water, approximately 20 – 25 minutes, before draining off the water. The potatoes can now be mashed, adding the butter a little at a time, along with the crème fraîche. Season with the salt and white pepper. (Can I make the quick point that if you are not mashing your potatoes with a ricer, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Perfect mash every time!)
- Boil together the orange zest and juice, allowing it to reduce by at least three quarters. Add the caster sugar, stirring the juice into the potatoes which can be rewarmed just before serving.
- While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the onions and shallots. Blanch the onion and shallot slices in boiling water for just 15 minutes, then drain in a colander. This softens both, allowing them to be stewed with the olive oil and thyme, rather than fried.
- Place the raisins, sherry vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, cover and leave to one side. This opens up the raisins, releasing their quite strong flavour.
- Pour the olive oil into a saucepan and add the blanched onions, shallots and thyme leaves. Cook over a low heat for at least 15 – 20 minutes, until completely softened. Add the sherry vinegar and raisins and season. Continue to cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes, until all the flavours have combined.
- Lightly flour the fish and season each with a pinch of salt. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Once hot, place the fish in the pans. Season the fish again. Fry for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Add the knob of butter and continue to fry for a further minute, then turn the fish over. Cook for just 1 more minute and then off the heat. The residual heat of the pan will continue to fry the fish for at least 2 – 3 minutes, providing enough time to plate the garnishes.
- Present the raising onions and bigarade mashed potatoes side by side on the plates, then place the John Dory fillets on top of the onions. Any remaining butter in the pan is then spooned over the fish.