Tips for Cooking John Dory Fish
With its large, spiny head and flat body, John Dory fish may not appear the mild, slightly sweet-tasting gourmet delicacy it is. Yet the deep sea creature, primarily fished along the southern and central coasts of New South Wales, is prized in high end American and European restaurants. It grows up to about three feet long and can weight up to seven pounds, and is known for its delicate flesh and excellent flavor.
There are many fanciful stories about John Dory fish. Sometimes called the St. Peter Fish, several legends link it to Bible stories. The blotches on the side of the fish are said to be the thumbprints of the apostle Peter, left behind when he removed a tax-paying coin from a fish’s mouth, as Jesus instructed. Peter’s fingerprints, some myths say, were left in the fish because it startled him by moaning when it was taken from the water. Jules Verne, the early science fiction writer of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, suggested the fish’s other name, John Dory, comes from the idea that it’s named after Heaven’s “door keeper,” St. Peter.
Yet whatever whimsical stories you can to learn about John Dory, eating it is the real treat. The fish is excellent grilled, steamed, poached, baked, or sautéed, although it can be difficult to find in the United States, outside of internet sources.
Look for the typical signs of a fresh fish: Bulging eyes, bright and shiny skin, and a not-too fishy odor. The flesh should also be firm to the touch.
Wrap the fish (whole or fillets) in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or, place in a freezer bag and store for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
John Dory is best cooked with its skin in place, since the flesh is quite delicate. Great seasonings for the fish include fresh lemon juice, lemon rind, black pepper, saffron, onions, fennel, and white wine.
As is true when you’re cooking anything you’ve never prepared before, it’s best to check out some quality recipes. Try Gourmandia’s John Dory recipes on videos for top-rated recipes for cooking this seafood delicacy.
Sautéing or Frying
Coat the fish in a little flour or cornmeal and place it in a preheated pan with a little olive oil. It should only take two to four minutes to completely cook the fish through, turning the John Dory over halfway through the cooking time.
Baking or Barbequing
Wrap the fish in foil before exposing it to the heat of the barbeque or oven. For baking, you may also dredge the fish in flour, dip it in a little egg, coat it with breadcrumbs, and cook on a baking sheet.
Steaming and poaching
To steam John Dory, try this method: Add about two tablespoons of oil to a pan and preheat. Add vegetables and sauté for a minute. Add about three tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cover with foil, and steam for two or three minutes. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, cover with foil, and steam until cooked through, about five minutes.
John Dory is best served with white wine, mild-tasting vegetables, and rice.