Poisson Rôti Aux Herbes de Saison

This is a very simple, very flavorful treatment for a whole fish. Baking it this way truly maintains its delicious flavor—the butter melts right into the flesh of the fish and gives it a delicate herbal hint. Try a white Burgundy with this, not too chilled!

One 3 to 4 pound (1.5-2 kg) whole fish, cleaned, gills and scales removed

2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup (about 5 g) mixed herbs such as tarragon and basil

2 shallots, minced

¼ cup (15 g) toasted fresh bread crumbs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Several sprigs fresh herbs

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Fleur de sel

  1. Rinse the fish with cold water and pat it dry. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).
  3. Mix the butter in a small bowl until soft. Mince the herbs with the shallots and mix them gently into the butter, along with the bread crumbs.
  4. Season the belly of the fish with salt and pepper. Lay several sprigs of herbs inside the belly of the fish. Make a horizontal slit in each fillet that runs nearly the length of the fillet, and is about one-fourth inch deep. Stuff each slit with half the butter, herb and breadcrumb mixture. Lay the fish on a piece of parchment paper large enough to fold over and completely enclose it. Drizzle the fish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil then wrap the fish in the parchment. Place the fish on a heavy baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the fish from the oven, slit the parchment paper and check to be sure the fish is fully cooked by making a slit at the back of the head, and looking into the flesh—if the flesh is opaque, the fish is cooked—if the flesh is still translucent either cover it with the parchment again and leave it to finish cooking in its residual heat atop the stove, or place it in the oven for several more minutes, until the flesh is opaque through.
  6. When you’ve determined that the fish is cooked through—roasting time will vary depending on the species of fish—let it sit on the cutting board for at least five minutes before cutting it. Reserve any cooking juices.
  7. To serve the fish, carefully remove the top fillet, trim away any bones from the fillet and cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces and set them on the center of three lightly warmed (not hot) plates. . Remove the central bone from the fish and discard the head, trim the second fillet, cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces and set those on warmed plates. Drizzle one-half teaspoon of cooking juices over each piece of fish, then an equal amount of the remaining olive oil over each piece of fish. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and garnish the plate with a sprig of tarragon or basil. Serve immediately.

6 servings

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