How the Turbot Got Its Scales

By Paul Angelillo | Antoinette Bruno


Paul Angelillo
Antoinette Bruno
Wild Turbot, Buerre Blanc, Cuerre Cancalaise, and Vegetable "Scales"
Wild Turbot, Buerre Blanc, Cuerre Cancalaise, and Vegetable "Scales"

It's only been a matter of months since Chef Matthew Kirkley was handed the golden baton from Daniel Patterson at Coi, but he's already blazing a personal path, starting with a vividly-bedecked turbot dish. "The sauce is an homage to Philippe Rochat. His cooking was rigorous and exacting," says Kirkley, speaking of Rochat who died in 2015. The surgical precision and artistry of the pristine scales is "an irony as we're adding scales back to a fish that wouldn't otherwise have them." As for the sauce, "It's Buerre Cancalaise, Rochat's whipped butter concoction named for Cancale, one of my favorite places in France. It's a dish with a whole lot of thought behind it, but at the end of the day, it's a well cooked piece of fish with some root vegetables and a butter sauce that anyone can enjoy."

Wild Turbot:
Kirkley sources wild North Sea turbot from Amsterdam's IJmuiden auction. He ages the fish for a week under ice, allowing the muscles to relax and develop flavor, before portioning and gently cooking it on a plate over a double boiler.

Buerre Blanc:
A classic buerre blanc—spiked with Noilly Prat dry vermouth—forms the buttery base of the turbot's sauce.

Buerre Cancalaise:
Root vegetables build on the sauce's base, alongside onion and trumpet mushrooms. But it's green apple and finger limes that shine: their bite relieves the palate and accentuates the vegetables' sweeter notes.

Dill and chive dot the dish, and orange, lemon, and lime zest provide floral notes. A splash of vermouth—this time the lighter Dolin—adds a final touch of bitterness.

Vegetable "Scales:"
Though turbot don't have scales, Coi's version comes wryly topped with a blanket of leek, watermelon radish, purple turnip, and carrot that are blanched, punched, and shingled with a thin layer of softened butter.

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