Oh no! The fishmonger has filleted my turbot!
I must have mentioned fillets. But really I was looking forward to filleting the fish myself. ‘Don’t worry sir,’ said the fishmonger, ‘I’ll give you some trial fish next time.’ Does he mean he’ll be giving me some spare turbots to practise on? Probably not.
But what was I thinking? Why was I asking for my turbot to be filleted? The ‘cognoscenti’ of the fish-eating world would shudder at the thought. They know that ‘cooking on the bone’ is sacrosanct: just ask a chef. Nathan Outlaw says cooking on the bone is more forgiving, but also the fish can be ‘rested’ like meat; Marcus Waring says that cooking on the bone enhances the flavour and Mark Hix says the practice of cutting out middle fillets is wasteful and unsustainable – cooking fish whole is doing the ocean a favour.
But perhaps the main reason a turbot should be cooked whole is the price tag. Such an expensive and noble fish should not have to suffer the indignity of being processed into commonplace chops, steaks and fillets. So do the right thing. Next time you buy a turbot – cook it whole and present it at the table on a grand platter so that its entire magnificence may be celebrated. In this way, you’ll not only offset the cost through the pleasure of eating the ‘king of fish’ on the bone, but also by the astonished admiration of your family and guests.