Recently I’ve enjoyed a seafood dish that featured a bisque at two different Michelin starred restaurants. The first was sea bass with a bisque at Ciel Bleu and the second was raw shrimp with bisque and carrots at Aqua. This gave me the idea to create a fish dish with carrots and bisque. A bisque is the reduced stock of shellfish (shrimp or lobster) and has a pronounced flavor. A nice bisque is strong-flavored, but balanced at the same time. When I buy shrimp with heads and shells I never discard the heads and shells after peeling the shrimp, but freeze them instead to be used for a dish like this. For the fish I opted for turbot pan-fried on the skin, but a similarly prepared European sea bass would also be a great choice. I’ve enriched and mellowed the bisque by adding carrot juice. I’ve cooked the (baby) carrots sous vide and then pan-fried them to caramelize them. The resulting dish turned out great, so I will definitely be making this again.
Serves 4 as a main course
- 600-700 grams turbot fillet with skin (from a 1.2-1.4 kilo turbot, about 3 lbs)
- 800 grams baby carrots
- salt and freshly ground white pepper
- olive oil
- clarified butter
- fresh flat leaf parsley
- 4 lemon wedges
For the bisque
- about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) head and bones of the turbot
- about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) heads and shells of shrimp (or lobster or scampi)
- 200 grams (2 cups) chopped onion
- 200 grams (2 cups) chopped carrot
- 200 grams (2 cups) chopped celery
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh carrot juice
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
Place the heads and bones of the turbot and heads and bones of the shrimp in a stockpot together with chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Then strain the stock into a low wide pan and discard the solids.
Bring the stock to a boil and reduce until only a thin layer is left. Watch it carefully towards to end to make sure it doesn’t burn.
In the meantime, peel the carrots and slice them thickly on a bias. Vacuum seal the carrots with salt and cook them sous vide for 1 to 2 hours at 85C/185F; 1 hour for crunchy and 2 hours for a softer texture.
Use a juicer to make fresh carrot juice.
Divide the fish into a portions. A turbot has light-colored skin on one side and dark-colored skin on the other side. (This is a trick for it to be able to blend in with either a light environment like sand or a dark environment like rocks by swimming or resting with the right side up.) By dividing each side into 4 pieces, so 4 light and 4 dark pieces, you can serve both colors on each plate. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground white pepper, and rub it lightly with olive oil. The oil is not for flavor but for preventing the fish from getting stuck to the plastic. Vacuum seal the fish, and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the salt to enter the fish (which is better for the texture). Then cook the turbot sous vide for 15 minutes at 48C/118F. This time is only valid if you vacuum seal the fish in a single layer, as the time is determined by the thickness. If you own just one sous vide appliance, you can first cook the carrots, and then take out the carrots, set the sous vide to the temperature for the fish, and lower the water temperature quickly by adding cold water before placing the fish in the water. It is no problem to allow the carrots to cool while you are cooking the fish, as the carrots will be pan-fried anyway.
Finish the bisque by adding 125 ml of cream…
…and 125 ml of carrot juice.
Add the liquid from the bag with sous vide cooked carrots as well.
Stir the bisque well and bring it to a boil. Allow the bisque to reduce a little, until it has the right flavor and thickness. If you think the flavor is strong enough but the bisque is still too thin, you could thicken it with a slurry of 1 or 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with cold water.
Pat the soud vide cooked carrots dry with kitchen paper and pan-fry them in clarified butter over high heat…
…until nicely caramelized.
Take the sous vide cooked fish out of the bags carefully and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Dust only the skin side with flour.
Pan-fry the fish on the skin side only in clarified butter over very high heat, just to crisp up the skin without overcooking the fish. You will need 2 or 3 frying pans to fry all of the fish at the same time, or fry it in batches (and keep warm in an oven at about 60C/140F).
Serve the carrots and fish with the bisque on preheated plates. You can place the carrots and bisque on preheated plates before frying the fish to make it easier to serve everything warm. Garnish with minced parsley and a lemon wedge.
This is great with a full-bodied oaked white wine, such as a white Rioja Gran Reserva, or an expensive white Burgundy such as Meursault, or a Condrieu (Viognier from the Northern Rhone).