Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce (Filets de Poisson Dugléré)

 

Fish Fillet

Filets de Poisson Dugléré

This is a dish that I learned at the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris and it has a very special background. It was invented by the French chef, Adolf Dugléré (1805 – 1884) who was chef for the Rothschild family and was named the ‘Mozart of Chefs’ by Rossini. Dugléré eventually became the head chef of Café Anglais, the most famous Paris restaurant of the 19th century.

Despite its distinguished background, this dish is not too difficult to make. I recently taught this recipe to my French Cooking Class in Adelaide and everyone gave it the thumbs up (and seemed to enjoy filleting their own fish)!

Adolf Dugléré

Chef-Adolphe-Dugléré

Any fish recipe served Dugléré- style means it is cooked with diced tomatoes, onions and parsley and is topped with a delicious buttery sauce made with fish stock. You will get the best result by using real homemade fish stock,  but store-bought stock will be alright.

For my home-made fish stock, I filleted my fish (snapper) and used the bones to make the stock. The fish bones are added to a pan with water, white wine, some onion and shallots and some herbs- the stock only needs 20 minutes to cook. (For detailed instructions on how to fillet a fish, refer to my post How to Fillet a Fish- and not die trying!)

Home-made Fish Stock

Ingredients

  • Fish bones
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, flattened
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • several sprigs each of parsley and thyme
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • water

Directions

  • Fillet the fish. Chop the fish bones into several parts using a cleaver; let soak in a pan of water for several minutes to remove any impurities. (You can use the head of the fish to make the stock, but you should remove the eyes first).
  • Remove the skin from the fish and any small pin-bones from the flesh. Set the fish aside.
  • To make the fish stock, roughly chop the onion and shallots and flatten the garlic clove. Add the butter to a large saucepan and sweat these veggies until translucent. Add the fish bones, white wine, parsley and thyme to the pan; add enough water to cover the bones and the other ingredients. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes and then strain.

You now have your fresh fish stock (‘liquid gold’) ready to make the rest of the dish.

Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce (Filets de Poisson Dugléré)

Recipe adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Sauce

  • 100 ml white wine
  • 300 – 400 ml fish stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 125 g butter
  • salt/pepper

Vegetable Garnish

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 medium or large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Directions

  • Prepare the vegetable garnish: remove the skins from the tomatoes: remove the top core of each tomato and place an ‘x’ on the bottom. Place each tomato into a pan of boiling water until the skin loosens. Remove from the pan and immediately place into a bowl of ice water to stop further cooking of the tomato. Remove the tomato skins and cut into quarters. Remove the seeds and then finely dice the tomatoes.
  • Chop finely the ½ onion and two shallots.
  • Butter a fry pan generously. Over medium heat, add the onions and shallots first to the pan, then add the tomatoes and fish pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then add the 100 ml wine on top.

Duglere tomates

 

  • When the fish stock is ready, pour this over the fish mxture, just enough to cover the fish and vegetables. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-8 minutes until the fish is cooked (do not over-cook).
  • Finish the sauce: remove the fish from the pan and cover with foil. Let the sauce reduce for 6-10 minutes, then gradually add 125 g cold butter cubes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Duglere sauce

  • To Plate: place one piece of fish in the centre of the plate, then top with some of the sauce. Sprinkle with the diced parsley.

Duglere

 

 

 

 

How to Fillet a Fish- and not die trying!

 

Paris Fish Market

President-Wilson-Market-Paris-Beautiful-Fish-display

Why should I learn to fillet a fish, do I hear you say? “It’s too messy, too much reality!”  Well, the answer is you can make fish stock from the bones, which in turn makes the most delicious sauce. Just ask Julia Child, where would her Lobster à L’Américaine be without real fish stock?

If you go to a fish market in the United States (at least the ones I’ve been to), you rarely see any whole fish. They’ve all been filleted, with the meat already trimmed and nicely packaged- you’d hardly know that what you’re buying comes from a living creature from the sea!

However, the fish markets in France are full of whole fish ready for you to fillet yourself: trout, sole, John Dory, sea bass and salmon, to name a few. Why, I’ve even bought a live lobster myself in Paris in order to make Lobster à L’Américaine. The French are famous for their delicious fish dishes and sauces and the secret is they use the fish bones to get their flavors.

Filleting a fish is not very difficult- you need to first make a cut behind the head, then run a sharp knife closely along the back bone to release the meat. You’ll need a sharp knife and special tweezers to remove the small ‘pin bones’ after filleting.

If you give filleting a try, you will then be ready to try my next recipe Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce.

Step 1: Lay the fish flat and remove any scales by scraping the back of your knife along the fish, going towards the direction of the head.

Step 2: Use kitchen scissors to remove the fins on the top and bottom of the fish, cutting in the direction of the head.

Step 3: Starting from the belly side, make a diagonal cut along the head of the fish to the very top.

Step 4: Starting from the head end, insert your knife on the top of the backbone and begin to cut towards the tail- keep your knife very close to the bone. As you cut, gradually pull back the flesh away from the knife.

Step 5: After you have cut half way along the backbone, insert the knife all the way through to the other side, still staying on top of the bones (skeleton). Now slide the knife all the way towards the tail and release the flesh near the tail.

 Step 6: After you have released the flesh from the tail, you will notice that the flesh is still attached to the fish at the ribs. Working on top of the ribs, gradually cut the meat away from the bones, pulling the flesh away.

 You have now finished filleting the top part of the fish. One more side to go!

 

Step 7: Turn the fish over and repeat the exact same steps. Run the knife along the top of the backbone, going from the head to the tail. Pull the flesh away from the knife as you continue to cut.

Step 8: Half-way along the backbone, insert the knife through to the other side, staying on top of the bones. Then cut towards the tail, releasing the flesh from the tail. Finish by cutting the flesh away from the ribs.

 After you have finished, there should be almost no meat left on the fish! You are now ready to make some fish stock with the bones. Stay tuned for my next recipe.

Fish Fillet