Newhaven John Dory with courgettes, tomato, saffron aioli and a caviar gin sauce
This summer dish is by no means simple or quick to recreate as it requires a wide range of advanced techniques. The result, however, is a mouth-watering show-stopper that will certainly be worth the effort.
For the semi-dried tomatoes
Take 16 small heritage tomatoes and cut a small cross in the base. Add to rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds, then take out and put into ice water. Remove them from the ice one by one and peel off the skin. To the skinned tomatoes add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, some picked thyme leaves, a splash of white wine vinegar and a little olive oil. Put the tomatoes over a warm aga or in the oven on a very low heat until they have halved in size. This may take between 2 and 8 hours depending on the heat.
For the Saffron Aioli:
Make a classic mayonnaise and microplane a clove of garlic and some toasted and powdered saffron strands into it. Mix and leave for at least an hour to infuse. Mix again and add to a piping bag or plastic bottle, store in the fridge.
For the John Dory:
Take one large fish from a decent fish monger, fillet and skin it. Divide any large pieces of the flesh in half and trim. Store in the fridge.
For the crushed courgette:
Take 2 medium sized yellow courgettes and chop roughly, sweat down in a pan with a little olive oil and salt until soft, adding a little water to prevent any catching. Cook until soft, then put to one side in small saucepan.
For the sliced courgette:
Cut the green courgette into 12 even round slices, then sear them in a hot pan in a little vegetable oil until caramelised on both sides. Season lightly, then place onto a tray.
For the tomato salsa:
Take 2 large ripe red tomatoes and quarter them, remove the insides and cut the skin off the outside like you would skin a fish. Take the tomato “petals” and cut into an even dice. To this add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, a small amount of finely diced shallot and a little olive oil. Mix together and place in the fridge.
For the caviar and gin sauce:
The base of this sauce is a classic beurre blanc, made from a shallot infused vinegar and a very small amount of cream heated together, and whisked with butter cubes to form an emulsion. This sauce needs to be prepared not too long before serving as it will split if cooled and re-heated. To this sauce at the last minute we add a splash of gin and a small spoonful of caviar (smoked herring roe, or avruga as it is commonly named, can be used as a substitute for caviar).
For the wilted greens:
Get ready some picked coastal herbs and some pak choi leaves trimmed and cut lengthways.
To finish cooking:
Remove the salsa, aioli and fish from the fridge. Warm the crushed courgette in the pan and the tomatoes and courgette slices in the oven. Season and sear the fillets of John Dory in a frying pan with a little vegetable oil. When lightly coloured add a knob of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice and turn the fish over to cook through. You only want the fish to be cooked very gently and it is quite easy to overcook. Take the fish out and place on a warm plate and add the greens to the pan and wilt down.
To plate up:
Using 2 spoons, form some 3-sided rugby ball like shapes and put onto the hot plates in a radial fashion. Add the cooked fish pieces in a similar way, add the tomatoes and courgette slices, drape over the pak choi and place on the wilted greens, add some of the tomato salsa, some dots of the aioli, then pour over the gin caviar sauce and finish with some basil leaves/cress.
Eat and enjoy straight away!
Recipe kindly supplied by George Blogg, Head Chef at Gravetye Manor.