Fish course: turbot

with Terry Laybourne of 21 Hospitality Group

fish-course-sept-2A fishy equivalent to Wagyu beef or white truffles – turbot is the Rolls Royce of the flatfish, the king of the sea. Try a taste of royalty.

Large and lean with firm, gleaming white meaty flesh and a delicate flavour, turbot is an elite fish dubbed ‘the pheasant of 
the sea’ for its beauty, divine flavor and majestic size.

With bumpy, sandy-coloured skin, a minute head and symmetrical body, turbot is a master of disguise that blends effortlessly into the seabed. Found in shallow waters throughout the North East Atlantic Ocean, with the majority being caught in the North Sea, turbot is in season from September through to February.

An absolute delight to cook with – turbot is at its best cooked whole because the bones help retain moisture and flavor during the cooking process. When buying, look for clear, protruding eyes and bright red gills – it should be firm to touch and smell of the sea.

This deluxe fish suits being accompanied by a simple and elegant garnish but is versatile enough to handle bold flavours too. A suitably luxurious accompaniment of Lindisfarne oysters, king scallops and champagne cream sauce allows for a little extra seafood indulgence yet lets the turbot do the talking. An undoubtedly decadent dinner for two – made even lovelier when served with a chilled glass of classic white Burgundy.

Whole roast turbot with Lindisfarne oysters, scallops, cucumber and a champagne cream

Serves 2


1 x 1kg Turbot
6 Lindisfarne oysters, removed from the shell
3 Large king scallops, each cut into 3
½ Cucumber, diced into 1cm cubes
2 Shallots, finely chopped
4 Sprigs of thyme
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml Champagne
175g Butter, diced into 1cm cubes
1tbsp Double cream
Lemon juice


Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/Gas Mark 4. Place the turbot on a large baking tray and drizzle generously with olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the flesh has turned opaque and flakes from the bone (when testing the thickest part of the fish). Cover the fish with tin foil halfway through cooking if the fish starts to dry out.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the cubes of cucumber, quickly blanch them and then immediately rinse in iced water. Drain well and put to one side.

To make the sauce, place the shallots, garlic, thyme and champagne into a saucepan and bring to a simmer – leave the liquid to reduce down to about 1/3. Next, whisk in the butter a cube at a time, until the sauce becomes thick and glossy, then add the cream. Finally, add the oysters, scallops and cucumber and poach for around 40 seconds. Place the turbot onto a large serving plate, pour the sauce in and around it and accompany with boiled potatoes and fresh green vegetables.

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