JULIA: This flat fish I'’’m filleting is the familiar flounder.
You'’’re going to see me and a French female fish professor fixing fancy fish today on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: The French Chef is made possible by a grant from the Polaroid Corporation.
Welcome to The French Chef.
I'’’m Julia Child.
Today we'’’re going to do fish fundamentals using whole fish.
And these are the basic things we all ought to know, like cleaning and filleting and boning and even eating.
And we'’’re going to have a private lesson with a fabulous French fish professor in a supermarket outside of Paris.
The French, you know, are very, very fond of fresh fish.
And their fish displays are so lively.
They'’’re done with great style, especially in this supermarket.
This is a French supermarket, a very fancy one, and what I love about it-- all these fish are so beautifully displayed.
They'’’re all on ice.
And you can pick them up and feel them, and you can smell them, and you really know know what you'’’re getting.
This is this famous sole, which we don'’’t get fresh, but which grows here in the Atlantic and also in the Mediterranean.
It has a lovely firm flesh.
It'’’s white on the underside, like our flounder, and gray on the top side.
And I think it'’’s one of the glories of French fishery.
That'’’s certainly one of the handsomest fish displays I think I'’’ve ever seen.
And that lovely Dover sole that you saw belongs to the flat fish family, which swims like this, and lies on the bottom of the ocean with its gray top uppermost, so that if you look down onto it, it'’’s camouflaged in the sand.
And then, of course, it has a pale belly, usually, which is lying in the sand.
And, of course, we don'’’t have the... we don'’’t have the real sole in America.
But we certainly have plenty of fish of the flat fish family.
And most of them are called sole.
There'’’s the West Coast rex sole and the petrale sole.
And on the East Coast, there'’’s the gray sole.
But none of them are sole.
They'’’re all flounders.
And this one is an East Coast one called the gray sole, or the witch flounder.
And this is one of our... one of our more expensive so-called soles, because the meat is the whitest.
But as you will notice, if you can see, there'’’s a line of meat that runs up from the tail up to the head.
But it'’’s a rather narrow one.
When you get to the small bones on the sides, that'’’s mostly jelly.
It'’’s not real meat.
And on the underside, it'’’s gray.
I suppose that'’’s why it'’’s called gray sole.
And then we have the yellowtail flounder.
And we have a... no, this is a great big one called the dab, which is a full-meated, a very fine flat fish, and a very good... a very good sole substitute.
And then we have the yellowtail, which is called yellowtail because its tail is actually yellow, as you see, on the side and on the end of the tail.
And this is a an excellent fish because it'’’s full... it'’’s full-meated, and it'’’s really the backbone of the flounder fishing industry.
And all flat fish, whether they are flounder or sole, have the same bone structure.
It'’’s just a flat bone structure with a, uh... something that... a bone that goes down in the middle and then others to the side.
And if you'’’re going to fillet a fish, which means taking the meat off the bone, it'’’s really-- filleting and boning are arts, just like carving a turkey.
And if you go to a chefs training school, you'’’re taught how to do it.
In Paris, there'’’s a food trade school called... (speaking French) ...and we asked Madame Pasquet, who teaches there, to meet us at the beautiful fish display in the French supermarket to give us a demonstration.
(speaking French) JULIA: We'’’re going to first show you this is the channel sole.
And the marvelous things about this is that you just peel the skin right off it.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And look at how she just turns it over.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: You don'’’t want to... (Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: You'’’re not supposed to... (speaking French) JULIA: And now the fish can be... is going to be filleted.
See, she cuts right down through the middle of it.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: You cut along the... (speaking French) JULIA: You cut down through the middle of the bone, and then you slip the knife under the fillet like a razor.
-Look at that.
-(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Second side, same as the first.
With a razor-like cut of the knife.
And the knife is very, very sharp.
(both speaking French) JULIA: There'’’s a third fillet.
You see, it comes right up to the head.
(both speaking French) JULIA: And we'’’re not going to throw away the bones, because that makes a wonderful fumet de poisson fish stock.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Ah.
You can also eat the eggs.
(speaking French) JULIA: You just season them, flour them and sauté them in butter.
(Julia speaking French) (both speaking French) Isn'’’t... Madame Pasquet is marvelously skillful, isn'’’t she?
You remember, she began by peeling the skin off of that channel sole, and it came off just like adhesive tape.
And that'’’s really the great difference between the true sole and all other of the flat flounder type of fishes.
You can peel a sole, but you can'’’t peel a flounder.
With a flounder, you'’’ve got to fillet it first, and then you can get the... then you can get the skin off.
And now here... here'’’s a filleted flounder.
And you note that central bone structure right there, and then the rest of the bones which go off sideways.
You can see if you look here at this dab, spelled D-A-B, you'’’ll notice this line that comes right along from the tail on up to the top of the gills.
And that'’’s the line that you follow to start the filleting.
And take a tough knife, and just cut right down, following that line.
And outlining it.
And then you come up to the neck part up here.
And then get yourself a knife, if you can, that...
This is a French filleting knife.
And you see, it'’’s flexible.
Everything having to do with fish seems to begin with "F," like a flexible fish filleter.
But you see how, with a flexible flexibility, you just come right along that flat bone, and it'’’s just as easy as pie.
And I imagine Madame Pasquet might frown at this, but I find that a pair of scissors, which don'’’t seem to begin with "F," are useful here because there'’’s a little edge where there'’’s some little bones at the sides, which don'’’t... which aren'’’t part of the fish fillet, so that you get them off.
So there is your... there'’’s your fillet all nicely taken off.
And there'’’s your... there'’’s your bone structure.
And I'’’ve done really quite well there.
There'’’s not... there'’’s a little bit of... left in here that I could have removed, but didn'’’t.
And you should then... now, to take the skin off... You take the small end, and then you hold on to it, and with your knife almost parallel to the board, you just wiggle... wiggle both knife and skin, and the skin comes off.
There are some fish that don'’’t... that it'’’s hard to skin because the skin is very tender.
But with this dab, it has a fairly tough skin, and that comes off very nicely.
Then you can trim it off.
And you should save all the trimmings and the fish frame and everything else, because if you'’’re going to cook the fish and fillet, say, in a white wine sauce, you can make a beautiful white wine fish fumet with the bones.
This is called the fish frame, when it'’’s all... all the meat is off it.
You can use that to make a fish stock with.
So that'’’s how you fillet flat fish.
But you have to use a different technique when you have oval-type fish that swim this way, like the salmon and the trout and the bass.
And these... (grunts) ...are...
The usual system for cleaning the fish is to slit it right up the belly, like this.
But Madame Pasquet has a marvelous method of removing all the viscera through the gill opening, without slitting the belly at all.
So that, uh... and you can use her method for any fish, whether it'’’s large or small.
And I asked her to show it to us on a large fish-- a bass.
(speaking French) JULIA: This is a bass-- an Atlantic bass.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA (translating): You can tell why it'’’s fresh-- by its eye.
And look at its gills.
And the general aspect of the fish.
All the scales are in place.
And there'’’s also a mucous.
And we'’’re going to prepare it for putting it in the oven.
(Pasquet continues speaking French) JULIA: She said, "I'’’m going to get some scales in my hair, to save time."
Be sure that all the scales are off.
It'’’s not fun to get a scale in your mouth.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And now... going to cut all those sharp, pointed things off.
-(Pasquet speaking French) -JULIA: Uh-huh.
JULIA: This is a serrated edge.
Now... -(speaking French) -Now she takes the... She'’’s going to cut this little skin.
And look at, since she doesn'’’t separate it... (both speaking French) JULIA: This won'’’t hold its head if you cut that little piece.
Now she'’’s pulling out these gills again.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: That is really the digestive tube down there.
Just pull it right out.
(Julia speaking French) JULIA: The point of this is so that you don'’’t make a hole, really, in the fish.
A little tiny hole down there... (both speaking French) JULIA: And then she gets the final end of the big digestive tube and pulls it out.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And you'’’re not supposed to wash it.
(both speaking French) -JULIA: Oh, because the... -(Pasquet speaking French) -Because the fish... -(continues speaking French) JULIA: Oh, the fish flesh, if you wash it, will absorb water like a sponge.
And so what she does is just dry it off with a towel.
That'’’s beautifully done.
The important thing here is this is attached so that during the cooking, the head won'’’t come apart.
I think it was very interesting that Madame Pasquet doesn'’’t wash her fish inside.
I think that'’’s rather French, '’’cause they feel that washing takes off the flavor of people, as well as of fish.
(chuckling): I always do wash the fish, but then I don'’’t do it as neatly as she does.
So here'’’s one that is clean from... like hers, with all the insides out, and everything is closed.
And then here is the usual cleaning, which is the slit belly.
And I'’’m going to... when you'’’re cooking them whole, I think the Madame Pasquet method of keeping the... of not having the slit belly is particularly useful if you'’’re going to poach it whole, like a whole poached salmon.
But I'’’m going to do truite meunière, which means "trout sautéed in butter."
And I'’’ve just put some salt on them inside and out.
And now I'’’m going to flour them.
Meunière means "the miller'’’s wife."
La belle meunière.
She'’’s always supposed to be beautiful and covered a little bit with flour, I imagine.
And this is going to be...
I'’’m going to cook these in clear melted butter-- clarified butter.
Or you can do it with butter and olive oil, if you'’’re going to be...
The best and the fanciest do it with the clear melted butter.
You want about an eighth of an inch of oil in the pan.
And you want to get it nice and hot, but not too hot.
And you want to keep watching it as you sauté the fish to make sure that the butter isn'’’t burning.
That really should be a little bit hotter.
But it'’’s heating up now.
And this is a large pan, and I'’’m using a no-stick one, which I think is marvelous for this kind of a dish, because this is about a 12-inch pan.
And you want to sauté them about five or six minutes on each side.
And just keep watching them and regulate the heat.
And while these are cooking, I'’’d like you to see two charming tricks that Madame Pasquet had for small-boned fish.
She did one with a whiting, and one with a trout.
(speaking French) JULIA: Now we'’’re going to do another fish.
(speaking French) JULIA: This is going to be the merlan in a lorgnette.
BOTH: En lorgnette.
JULIA: This is a very fancy way of doing a little...
This is like a little whitefish, a whiting.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Ah, we'’’re going to detach the fillets from the bone, but leave the head on.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Very carefully, she takes out the bone from the center.
(Julia speaking French) This has a simple bone structure, so this works out nicely.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And this is... if you'’’re on a diet, this is a good fish.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Cut its spinal cord.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And the visceral... viscerals are out.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Oh, and there'’’s the little bones along the back.
And she'’’s going to take those out.
Look at that.
(both speaking French) JULIA: Oh, you can either bake it or fry it.
(both speaking French) JULIA: Now we'’’re going to do a mackerel enraged.
-(Julia chuckles) -(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: You cut either side of the backbone.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Each side of the bone.
(both speaking French) JULIA: Uh-huh, and there'’’s the little bone, and completely disengage from the flesh.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Pull out the bone, like that.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: And at the same time, there are all the insides.
(both speaking French) JULIA: Pull out the gills.
(Pasquet speaking French) JULIA: Oh, and then you put his tail... (Julia speaking French) JULIA: And there'’’s his tail coming out.
(both speaking French) JULIA: Here are our truite meunière, our sautéed trout.
I'’’ve just turned them over, and they need three or four minutes more of cooking.
Now, that'’’s fun, isn'’’t it-- that Madame Pasquet'’’s way of fixing those little fish.
You can fix any small fish that way.
And I'’’m going to show you how to cook them.
Now, here is your... and I'’’ve done these both on little trout.
And there is your truite en lorgnette.
This looks like a little ram'’’s head, doesn'’’t it?
And then here is...
I'’’m going to un-lorgnette it so that we can cook it.
And then here is the truite en colère, the one fish that'’’s so mad he'’’s eating his tail.
Then with both of these... these are lovely little fresh trout that come from Idaho.
And they'’’re flown in, and if you keep them on ice, they just keep perfectly.
There'’’s no reason why we can'’’t have fresh fish all over the country, because they'’’ve got wonderful methods now for sending it.
I'’’m now painting both sides of the fish with butter.
Then they'’’re going to be seasoned.
And they'’’ve got to have a little salt and pepper on them.
And then a little flour...
I just put a little flour on.
It seems to hold them together a little bit while they'’’re cooking-- not very much.
Now I'’’m going to roll up the lorgnette.
You'’’ll notice all this is, is that the bone is out of the center, and you just left the head attached.
In France, you always leave the head attached on a fish so that you know what it is.
And then I'’’m going to put this in a... in a little buttered dish.
And then here is the lorgnette.
And this, you have to... see it'’’s...
The fillet, it hasn'’’t been closed.
I mean, the belly is still... is still intact.
And this is en colère.
I'’’m going to have to take my impeccably clean purple towel to push that tail through the mouth there.
Here she comes.
That'’’s really a very amusing thing to do.
This, also, is going to go onto our little dish.
And then I think a little bit of bread crumbs is good.
I'’’m just going to bake these in the oven-- start baking them, and then do a little bit of broiling at the very end.
And I think that the bread crumbs protects the fish.
And then it should have a little bit of butter on, and then they go to the oven.
Sprinkle on the butter, and then they'’’re going into a 375-degree oven.
And they should bake for about, oh, 15 minutes, and baste them two or three times.
And at the end, when you feel that you'’’re done-- that they'’’re done-- turn and put them under the broiler just to brown very, very lightly.
And while they'’’re baking, we can finish the sole...
I mean the trout sautéed in butter, the truite meunière.
I'’’m going to put them onto a platter.
But first, to tell... how to tell when they'’’re done.
Now, if you open it up inside...
I don'’’t know how well you can see that, but open it up in the inside where the bones is-- should be... should be white with no red.
And if you have done a fish that has not been opened this way, you open it up at the back a little bit.
And if the flesh just comes away from the bone, it'’’s done.
I think when people say, when the fish flakes easily, it'’’s done, that it'’’s overdone, actually.
'’’Cause the fish should still be juicy.
There, they'’’re on the platter.
And then, if your butter is burned, pour it out and add some fresh butter.
And this will be a beurre noir.
And you notice this is clear melted butter.
There isn'’’t any speckling of... sort of milk and so forth left in it, which will make it darker.
And then we want to have a bit of lemon.
And I have a really impeccably clean purple towel to squeeze some lemon juice over the fish.
And then a little bit of parsley on each.
And we want that butter to be really hot because then, when you pour it over the fish, it'’’s going to sizzle.
So that'’’s where you want your parsley and your lemon.
Now, that looks good and hot, and we'’’ll just pour that on.
(sizzling) And this, naturally, you want to serve immediately.
You'’’re not going to be able to get it sizzling.
(chuckles) It won'’’t be sizzling in the dining room, but you just can'’’t wait.
Now I'’’m going to get the little baked trout.
These are the ones that were... that were en lorgnette.
I'’’m going to put some here so that you can look at them.
And en colère.
And with these, you serve one per person.
They'’’re really very attractive, and they'’’re very nice because they'’’re completely boned so that they'’’re easy to eat.
And here are the truite meunière, the trout sautéed in butter.
And I want...
I'’’m going to show you how to eat these.
I think a lot of people, particularly children, are afraid of fish because of the bones.
But I think, if you show them how to eat the fish, they'’’ll be...
I probably better put my glasses on again.
There you have the fish with your tail away from you, and the back to your right.
And then with a spoon and a fork, you come right down the back.
You remember, the fish bone is practically like the flounder that has a long bone that goes the length of the fish.
Then you turn that over, and then here is your central bone.
And you just lift that out.
You see, that is just done because the bone comes off.
You need a little... a bone plate.
And then I think, particularly for children, take out the little bones around... on the chest.
And with this fish, I would serve a Riesling wine and parsley potatoes and a cucumber salad.
And add also a little bit of butter on top.
And that'’’s the whole fish story today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org ANNOUNCER: The French Chef has been made possible by a grant from the Polaroid Corporation.
Julia Child is coauthor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes One and Two.