marinated, sautéed John Dory, pea shoots; tomatoes, leek


It’s only one fish, not 7 [as in Festa dei sette pesci], but then it wasn’t actually Christmas Eve, and it also wasn’t particularly Italian, but it was a small feast.

The basic recipe, with only slight alterations, and without the salad and croutons, is from this site.

I had intended to begin cooking the fillets with their skin side down, as specified in the recipe, but inadvertently began with the flesh side. I’m not certain how much of a difference it made, but I expect to find out the next time I use this delicious, fairly subtle recipe for a great fish.

  • two 6-ounce John Dory fillets from Pura Vida Seafood marinated in a shallow bowl for about half an hour in a mixture of half of a crushed garlic clove from Stokes Farm; one teaspoon of shredded leaves from a Full Bloom Market Garden basil plant from Whole Foods; the juice and zest of less than an eighth of a blood orange, also from Whole Foods; one half of a teaspoon of walnut oil; maldon salt; and freshly-ground black pepper, removed from the marinade and placed flesh side down inside a large, tin-lined oval copper in which a little olive oil had been heated over a moderate-to-high flame, the heat immediately reduced slightly, the fish cooked for about 2 minutes, then turned and cooked for another 3 on the skin side, removed and served with a small bunch of pea shoots arranged at one end
  • one very small leek from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut lengthwise down the center, rinsed well under cold water, dried, chopped into small pieces, some of the greener parts at the top reserved, cooked in heated olive oil until wilted, eight or ten Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, quartered, slipped into the pan and barely heated, and a generous amount of chopped thyme from Keith’s Farm, salt, and sugar added and stirred into the vegetables, served with the reserved uncooked sliced leek sprinkled on top along with some of the chopped thyme that remained
  • the wine was a California (Napa Valley) white, Matt Iaconis Chardonnay Napa Valley 2015, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Luigi Rossi’s ‘Orfeo’, with the Choir and Orchestra of Les Arts Florissants, in a performance which, more than any I had ever before experienced, told me what a brilliant artist can do to raise a great work of art from the sleep to which it might otherwise might have remained condemned forever.