It was my lucky day at the market. Because not only did I find the nice box of wild mushrooms for a bargain, the turbot was on sale as well. The turbot was on the small side (which for turbot means they were about 900 grams/2 lbs each) and I’d have to fillet them myself, but it did mean I could buy some dried morels with a clear conscience. Morels are quite expensive and that is one of the reasons why I had not yet prepared the classic combination of turbot and morels. The earthy flavors of turbot and morels go really well together, so I thought why not add more earthy flavors. And so I ended up some steamed wild mushrooms and celeriac puree. It turned out to be a delicious dish.
I’ve used sous-vide to cook both the turbot and the celeriac, but that is not essential. You can also make this without sous-vide. The advantage of cooking the turbot sous-vide is that it is a lot easier to cook it perfectly that way (without the risk of drying it out). The advantage of making the celeriac puree sous-vide is that there is no flavor leaking away. Since my turbot fillets were a bit thin due to the smaller size of the turbot, I decided to ‘glue’ the thinner fillets of turbot together into thicker pieces using transglutaminase. That is an optional step, but it is worth the extra trouble as it makes it easier to brown the turbot on the outside without overcooking the inside, and a thicker meatier chunk of tarbot just tastes better somehow. It is worth making clarified butter for this dish, as it will help you to brown the turbot without burning the butter. The ingredient list is quite short for such a classy dish; this is all in the quality of the ingredients and cooking technique. Here’s what I did…
For 4 servings
600 grams (1.3 lbs) of turbot fillet, from about 1.8 kilos (4 lbs) of turbot
8 dried morels
12 wild mushrooms, such as trompette de mort
milk, as needed
salt and freshly ground white pepper
flour for dusting
celery salt (optional)
butter, preferably clarified
10 grams transglutaminase/Activa (optional)
If your fishmonger hasn’t done this for you, cut the fillets of the turbot off the bone. For fancy flatfish like turbot and sole, it is customary to cut two fillets from each side.
Remove the skin.
Rinse the turbot fillets with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
Optional step: make a slurry of 10 grams of transglutaminase (Activa RM/EB) and 40 grams cold water. Use this slurry as glue.
Optional step, continued: each turbot has two larger and two smaller fillets. Stack fillets of approximately the same size, season each with salt and glue them together with the transglutaminase.
Optional step, continued: vacuum seal the stack of turbot fillets. It may help to fold the sous-vide pouch or use a pouch of the right size to prevent the stack of fillets from collapsing during the vacuum sealing process.
Optional step, continued: refrigerate the vacuum sealed turbot until you are ready to continue. If you will be cooking the turbot sous-vide, the transglutaminase will set quickly. If you did use transglutaminase but you are not going to cook the turbot sous-vide, allow 6 hours (!) for the transglutaminase to set.
Make celeriac puree. You can do this by boiling the celeriac with some water or steaming it, or by vacuum sealing it…
…and cooking it sous-vide at 84C/183F for 90 minutes.
Take the celeriac out of the sous-vide pouch…
…and transfer it to a blender. Season with celery salt if you have it (this is a mixture of celery and salt), or plain salt.
Add as much milk as needed to get the blender going.
Blend until the puree is very smooth. If you have a high end powerful blender like a Vitamix, you won’t have to sieve the puree. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Soak 8 dried morels in 120 ml (1/2 cup) of lukewarm water for 10 minutes.
Drain the morels, reserving the soaking liquid. Rinse the morels under cold running water to make sure all sand is removed. Filter the soaking liquid with a fine sieve to remove any sand from the liquid as well.
If you’re cooking the turbot sous-vide, do that first for 30 minutes at 50C/122F.
Pat the turbot (raw or cooked sous-vide) dry with paper towels, season with salt and freshly ground white pepper, and dust with flour.
Put the morels in a steaming basket together with the wild mushrooms.
Steam until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat 4 Tbsp of butter, preferably clarified, in a non-stick frying pan. Add the turbot, shaking off excess flour, and cook over very high heat for a minute per side or until golden brown.
If the turbot has not been cooked sous-vide, finish cooking the turbot in the oven preheated to 160C/325F until the core temperature has reached 50C/122F.
Note: turbot is an expensive type of fish, so you really should invest in a thermometer with a probe. Such a thermometer will cost you less than a single batch of turbot that you ruined by overcooking it.
Add the morel soaking liquid to the butter remaining in the pan, and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half.
Serve the turbot the celeriac puree, the steamed mushrooms, and the morel jus on preheated plates.
The classic wine pairing with turbot and morels is an aged white such as an aged white Burgundy or an aged Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or another full-bodied white that has aged well and has developed an earthy flavor.
Stuffed savoy cabbage or involtini di verza are quite a ‘homey’ dish, but they are so tasty and nice looking to boot that I dare to serve them at a dinner party. There is no single recipe for them — as with many Italian dishes there are as many variations as there are families. The general idea is that a large leaf of green curly savoy cabbage is parboiled, stuffed and then baked. I stuffed my version with the tender inner cabbage, minced beef and pork, mortadella, fennel seeds, and parmigiano and they were absolutely wonderful. I’m not usually big on cabbage, so I was surprised how delicious these turned out to be.