Turbot information

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
Written by Steve Beal, Assistant Editor.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL CULINAR

Chef's have been singing the praises of the turbot for centuries. A turbot is a large, round flatfish with both of its eyes on the topside of its body, a rough, knobby skin on the upper surface with chameleon-like abilities and a soft cream-colored underbelly. Turbot, from the Scandinavian word for "thorn" (due its sharp, wart-like top skin), range from the Mediterranean to Bergen, Norway Market turbot weigh between 4½ to 9 pounds, though they can reach a maximum size of about 30 pounds. Small turbot (2-3 pounds), though just as good as the regular-sized turbot, are called chicken turbot. Fillet yield from a fish is often rather small, with up to 50 percent being wasted, though large fish have less waste than small ones. A great debate rages in culinary circles over whether turbot is as good as, inferior to, or even superior to sole. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, turbot deserves high esteem for its influence on the cuisines and culinarians of the Atlantic coastline. Many famous chefs have invented turbot presentations for their often equally famous patrons: Laguipiere created turbot a l'imperiale (sliced, poached in milk, served with a truffle sauce and garnished with crayfish tails) for Napoleon; La Planche deep-fried a whole turbot for Brillat-Savarin; Prosper Montagne prepared turbot a la pelerine (sprinkled with melted butter, baked on a bed of sauteed onions, coated with the cooking juices mixed with white wine, cream and butter, glazed in the oven, and garnished with fried scallops); Fernand Point braised turbot in vermouth; Roger Verge created blanc de turbotin with sorrel fondue; Andre Guillot served blanquette of turbot; Alain Senderens served chicken turbot with grapes and tea; and Michel Guerard created chicken turbot studded with anchovies and steamed with saffron. All of these chefs had to contend with availability and the seasonal flux of turbot, but today's culinarians just have to pick up a phone and they will get the fish within 48 hours. In the last three years, a company in Chile has been offering the only commercial- sized farm-raised North Atlantic turbot in the world. The company, Granjamar, incubates the eggs in a hatchery and then transfers the hatchlings to land-based grow tanks. The grow tanks have cold, oxygen-rich fresh sea water constantly pumped in 24 hours a day and utilize special coverings to prevent exposure to direct sunlight Granjamar farm-raises Psetta maxima, also known as Scopthalmus maximus. The turbot are fed a mixture of fresh fish and fish meal five times a day. The hatchlings grow fast under these ideal conditions and reach a harvesting weight of 4 to 4½ pounds in 21 to 24 months. The carefully controlled conditions under which the fish are raised, processed and shipped ensures that a quality product reaches the chef. "The flavor, texture and quality are much the same as turbot from Europe," says Hartmut Handke, CMC, AAC, chef/ owner of the 160-seat Handke's Cuisine in Columbus, Ohio, "but the fish seem to be much fresher, and the extremely cold water that they are grown in improves the texture." Handke says he sells about 30 turbot covers a night when he features the fish as a weekend special. "Customers say that it doesn't even taste like fish because the flavor is so clean and fresh." At this time only whole fish can be obtained, which is unfortunate, says Handke, because the fish are difficult to fillet. "You have to be a good culinarian to fillet a turbot properly," Handke says. "The bone structure is very solid and the skin is very tough, but they plan to begin shipping the fish in fillets soon." The Solomon Company is the exclusive U. S. importer of Granjamar's farm-raised turbot. The fish can be obtained by calling David Solomon at (203) 431-9432 or the following distributors: Steve Connolly Seafood (nationwide deliveries),at (617) 427-7700, North Landing Corporation (Manhattan and New Jersey) at (201) 344- 5896 and Inland Seafood Corporation (Southeast) at (404) 350-5850.

Submitted By SHERREE JOHANSSON On 10-14-94

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