Published: January 2007

Liquid-Centered Fish Using Activa
Chef Mark Hellyar of Blue Duck Tavern – Washington, D.C.
Adapted by StarChefs

Chef Mark Hellyar’s technique for fluke with a liquid parsley-cod center brings the “hidden treasure” satisfaction of liquid-centered desserts, like molten chocolate cake, to the liquid-center-lacking world of fish. The covalent bonding power of plant-derived Activa is to thank for this feat of textural improbability. Chef Hellyar uses a small amount of Activa, or transglutaminase, to bind two layers of fish around a flavorful jellified sauce. When braised or roasted, the gelée melts to a liquid and the happy customer’s first forkful yields a moist and flavorful fish, conveniently containing its own rich sauce.

Step 1: Sprinkle two fish filets with 1 ounce of Activa.

Step 2: Place a rectangle of gelée on one filet, then top with the other, so the filets adhere.

Step 3: Wrap the stuffed filets in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, allowing the Activa to set.

Step 4: Roast or braise the fish as desired.

Atlantic Fluke with Parsley-Cod Liquid Center

Chef Mark Hellyar of Blue Duck Tavern – Washington, D.C.
Adapted by

Yield: 2 Servings


    Parsley Sauce:
  • 3 ounces fresh shallots, minced
  • 3 ounces fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds cod bones, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 liters whole milk
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 branches rosemary
  • 8 ounces fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 10 sheets gelatin

  • 2 pounds whole Atlantic Fluke, portioned to four filets
  • 2 ounces activa

For the Parsley Sauce:
In a stainless steel pot sweat the shallots, garlic and cod bones in olive oil. Add the white wine and reduce by ¾, then add milk and cover. Place the thyme and rosemary in a sachet and simmer in the liquid for 45 minutes. Pass the mixture through a coarse strainer, pushing the pulp of the sauce through to thicken. Add the parsley to the sauce and blend until smooth in a high speed blender.

Bloom 10 sheets of gelatin in cold water, then heat ½ liter of the sauce over medium heat. Add the bloomed gelatin and cook until fully dissolved. Allow the sauce to cool and set in a shallow casserole refrigerated. Remove the gel and cut 2 3-inch by ½-inch rectangles.

For the Fluke:
Lay one large and one small filet of fluke on plastic wrap and sift Activa over the filets.
Place one rectangle of the gelatin on the larger of the two filets and cover with the smaller filet. Repeat this process with the remaining filets, then wrap the stacks in plastic wrap, chill, and allow the Activa to set for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the fluke on an sheet pan and roast for approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through.