The Critic has a high pressure job and he has very little patience with people who, when confronted with a question to which they don't know the answer, just make something up. This really, truly irritates him and I hear about it all the time because there are a lot of people in the organisation where he works who would rather give a wrong answer than admit they don't know the answer.
In private life, however, one of his charming traits is that he'll do exactly that: make up a plausible answer when he doesn't know the answer and thinks the questioner is being unreasonable to think he would. So for years I wandered around Paris in the spring convinced that every tree I saw was an almond tree. I've never seen the kind of flowering tree Paris abounds in and as he's English (his mother's an avid gardener) I figured he would. So every time I asked him what kind of tree that lovely flowering one over there was...he would answer with the only flowering tree that vaguely fit the shape: an almond tree.
And then there is the Daurade or Dorade. It's a really popular fish in Paris and whenever anyone visits we are sure to be asked at some point "What's that in English?" To which the Critic answers with great assurance "John Dory". Each time I would timidly come in with a "I'm not sure it's John Dory, but frankly I can never remember what it's called." And the Critic would crow. Because he was certain.
And he was certainly wrong. I'm putting it here in print as he frequently asserts that he is Never Wrong. Daurade is sometimes translated as Dorade. But if you compare Latin names, it appears that the Daurade Royale is a Gilthead Sea Bream. So now you know. And so do we.
Daurade is a lovely medium-sized fish and found in every outdoor market and every fish restaurant in Paris. It's very adaptable and stands up well to strong flavours. Because the flesh is very tender, it is not often sold as a filet. When you examine the fish more closely it's immediately apparent that this is one of the carnivores of the fish world. (Barrett insisted that I post the photo of his vicious teeth - and all the photo credits are his!)
Baked Gilthead Bream Stuffed With Good Stuff (serves 4)
Good stuff for a bream can be just about any combination of woody spices and strong flavors. For ours, we opted for some beautiful fresh rosemary I'd bought at the market over the weekend, an onion, the parsley supplied with the fish and a strong squeeze of lemon to bring out all the flavors. Tomatoes roasted in the pan with the fish also make a wonderful sweet and sharp compliment to the fishy flavor.
2 Gilthead Bream, cleaned, gutted and scaled but otherwise whole
8-10 sprigs of rosemary
1 small bunch of parsley
1 glass of wine (optional)
a drizzle of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place half the rosemary on top of the olive oil and place the fish on it. Open the belly of the fish and stuff in the onion, cut in wedges, the remaining rosemary and the parsley. Cut the lemon in quarters or eighths and squeeze it over the fish. Toss the lemon pieces in the roasting pan with the fish. Season with pepper and just a sprinkle of salt. If you like, you can splash a glass of white wine over the fish too - I am pretty sure I forgot when we made this last week. Bake for 40-60 minutes (depending on the size of your fish) until the flesh is opaque and tender but not dried out.
For best results, serve with extremely lemony spaghetti squash. It's absolutely delicious and the sight of those mean teeth will quickly reconcile you to the reproachful eyes of your dinner.