Storified by Arya McLean· Sun, Mar 24 2013 21:36:54
John Dory has a meaty creamy-white boneless flesh, firm and delicately flavorful. It is a popular ingredient among Michelin chefs because it goes well with a variety of ingredients and the bones in its head also make an excellent stock. In this recipe by the chic and legendary Deauville Normandy Barrière Hotel, John Dory fillets are grilled and served with an onion compote and luscious tomato sauce.
Also known as San Pierre in French or St. Peter’s fish, John Dory is a feisty and unusual looking fish with nasty spines so take extra care when handling them whole. This fish is best filleted, as in this recipe, but produces a low yield of around 35%. It is best to buy the fish whole and filet it yourself. You can use the fish head and carcasses to make a flavorful stock. Its texture is similar to Dover sole, holds up pretty well when cooking, and does not break apart easily even when fried. The two can usually be substituted to make the same recipe. A staple in many Provencal and Mediterranean cuisine, it works exceptionally well with salsas, compotes, peppery sauces, and other Mediterranean flavors.
In this recipe, the onions are marinated in red wine and sugar for twenty four hours to make rich and thick onion compote that will accompany the fish. This process should be done the evening before you plan to serve the dish. After it is simmered for three hours, the onions will take a gorgeous deep red color that will look absolutely elegant on a white clean plate. The dish is also dressed with a simple tomato sauce made from scratch, which gives the dish a variation of lovely red hues.
Pair this grilled dish with a citrusy and spicy wine such as Sancerre. This full-bodied wine with its high acidity and pronounced aroma will go well with the grilled John Dory, onion compote and tomato sauce.