French Seafood Cookery

A Complete Guide

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For many chefs of my generation and before, one’s professional training centred on the classic dishes of France and the Repertoire de la Cuisine was our bible. Together with the Larousse Gastronomique we had access to sauces, garnishes and flavour combinations from the golden age of cookery when rich sauces and elaborate garnishes came together under wonderfully pompous names on huge menus offering little explanation to the bewildered customer.


Langoustines

In truth much of what is contained in the pages of these books would ever find its way onto modern restaurant menus but the basics behind the great dishes remain the foundations of even the most modern ideas. I suppose this is particularly true with fish cookery and the sauces and garnishes that have sprung from them. Looking beyond the ubiquitous decorations of truffle, aspic, and larks tongues etc there are some deceptively simple dishes. Fillets of Sole ‘Chauchat’ are simply sole fillets cooked in butter, coated with cheese sauce, gratinated and served with fried potatoes-a simple supper.

The French have long enjoyed and made the most of an abundance of superb seafood around their shores and in their lakes and streams.

The classic ‘fruit de mer’ is a perfect example of the French way of celebrating food and wine in its most exquisite form. A fruit de mer is more an occasion than a meal, in its true sense it should be a plate of cooked and raw seafood of the best quality with the simplest of accompaniments all washed down with a cold Muscadet. Once again it demonstrates how great ingredients treated with the minimum of fuss produce the greatest results.

The French have invented some truly wonderful fish dishes from the classic bouillabaisse to lobster thermidor, fish soup to sole bonne femme and many more.

Fish Soup
Bouillabaisse
Lobster
Oysters
Sole
Sauces
Scallops
Turbot
Bream

Content and picture © Miles Collins

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