John dory (sometimes spelled “dory”) is an oily fish that has been prized by anglers and chefs alike since ancient times.
What Is A John Dory?
In English, John Dory means ‘the young of a ray’, referring to its name in Greek, Doras, which translates into ‘a ray with a dorsal fin’.
It comes from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey.
The flesh of this fish is firm, white, sweet tasting and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
As far back as 4th century BC, it was used medicinally to treat gout, arthritis, and rheumatism.
In the 16th century, King Henry VIII ordered his physicians to keep him well supplied with fresh John Dories in order to cure his ailments.
These days, it is still highly regarded for its rich flavor and nutritional value.
As a result, it has become one of the most popular seafoods in restaurants around the world.
There are many varieties of John Dory.
The two main species are the European and Japanese.
They differ slightly in terms of size and coloration.
However, they have similar tastes and nutritional values.
Here is how you can tell them apart if you ever come across both types of John Dory at your local market.
- European John Dory – average length between 3.5 and 5 inches long, with pale pinkish/white skin and silver spots on the body
- Japanese John Dory – average length between 7 and 10 inches long, with golden yellow skin and black spots on the body
What Are The Ingredients In A John Dory Recipe?
A good quality of fresh salmon, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, and capers should make up your basic john dory recipe.
The most important ingredient in preparing this dish is the salmon itself.
If it isn’t fresh enough to eat raw, then there will be no flavor and texture left when cooked.
Next in importance order would be the other ingredients.
The rest of the ingredients aren’t really necessary unless you want to add more flavor into the dish like herbs, spices, or something else entirely.
- 1 pound cleaned salmon fillet
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley flakes
- Garlic powder
To start cooking your meal, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Once hot, pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil onto the surface, spreading out evenly across the pan.
You don’t need much so it doesn’t burn.
Place the salmon filets on top of the oiled surface.
Make sure they are flat against the sides of the pan.
Leave them alone until they have started to brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Do not move them around too often during this time period.
Remove the salmon from the heat once done.
While still warm, sprinkle each piece liberally with salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.
Drizzle some lemon juice over them, followed by another drizzle of the same.
Add one last sprinkling of the parsley flakes before serving.
You can serve this dish plain if you prefer, but I recommend adding a bit of a salad to go along with it.
How Do You Cook A John Dory?
The word “dory” comes from the French meaning “to cut through.” As such, it suggests how easily this fish cuts through fatty foods.
The name of the species also hints at its taste — they have a strong flavor reminiscent of the sea.
This delicious fish is found all over the world.
It grows to around seven feet long and weighs between 30-50 pounds.
Its meat is firm but delicate, making it ideal for cooking whole.
John dories come in various colors, including silver, green, white, brown, and red.
They grow to be quite large compared to their cousins, cod and hake, which generally weigh less than 10 pounds each.
However, they tend to be much more expensive because of their rarity.
As mentioned earlier, these fish possess a very distinct taste.
In fact, the flesh tastes like the ocean itself.
That means if you eat one raw, you will probably end up vomiting! If you want to try eating them raw, make sure your stomach is well prepared beforehand.
Otherwise, you may end up throwing up after every bite.
You should always cook them first before trying any other type of food.
Aside from their unique taste, they also have a distinctive appearance.
Their bodies are very flat, and they lack scales.
Instead, their skin looks like dark leather.
Moreover, they have small fins along both sides of their body.
Lastly, they have two black spots on either side of their eyes.
What Is A John Dory Fish?
A true John dory is not actually a type of cod but rather a species within the family of Cod Fishes found in cold waters around the world.
The name comes from the fact that this fish was once caught near to where fishermen would go out to catch codfish.
In addition, it is often called ‘cod-like’ because of its similar appearance to cod.
However, despite being related, these two fishes are very different and have distinct differences in their tastes.
Cod is one of the most popular types of seafood consumed today due to its versatility.
It is generally considered to be mild tasting, especially when cooked well.
As such, it lends itself perfectly to being used in many different recipes across all cuisines.
On top of that, it also tends to take on the flavors of whatever spices are added into the dish.
In contrast, a John dory tends to be much more fatty than cod and therefore requires special cooking techniques that allow it to maintain its integrity while still achieving tenderness and flavor.
What Does A John Dory Taste Like?
The flesh of a john dory tends to have a very mild flavor, but it is also extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
As such, it is one of the best sources of this nutrient found in nature, which makes it useful for people who are looking to improve their health through diet.
How Do You Fillet A John Dory?
Filleting a John Dory is one of those tasks that seems impossible at first glance.
But it really isn’t too difficult if you take your time with it.
The key is to keep the knife steady, cut through the soft flesh without cutting into the bones, then pull the skin off in strips before removing the entrails from the belly cavity.
The method below will help you achieve this feat.
It’s important not to rush through the process because doing so will lead to cuts and damage that may ruin the flavor and texture of the fish.
So let’s get started!
- Step 1: Place the John Dory on its back on a clean surface such as a chopping board or countertop.
- Step 2: With a sharp, heavy-duty chef’s knife held firmly against the belly area of the fish, slice down diagonally towards the tail end of the fish, taking care to make sure you don’t hit any of the fins or other internal organs.
- Step 3: Cut out the center portion of the belly until you reach the spine.
- You should now have two layers of flesh separated by a thin layer of fat which you can remove easily using a spoon or spatula.
- Step 4: Take a strip of paper towel and place over the hole made by step three.
- Using firm pressure, press down on the exposed guts to force them out.
- If you are having trouble getting everything out, repeat steps two and three.
- Step 5: Repeat steps two, three, and four again.
- Be careful when pressing down on the belly area because there are some very sensitive organ parts here.
- Once you’ve removed all the guts, use a small pair of scissors to cut along the bottom edge of the belly.
- As long as you’re gentle, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
- Remember, this part of the filleting process must be done extremely carefully.
- Step 6: Remove the entrails from the head with a boning knife.
- Step 7: Gently lift up the top half of the fish while holding the belly together with both hands.
- Make sure you don’t rip the skin! Now, turn the fish around and begin to work your way toward the tail.
- Use the tip of your knife to gently push the flesh away from the backbone.
- When you come upon the bone, use the point of your knife to pry it free.
- Step 8: Continue working your way toward the tail, repeating the previous instructions until the entire fish is cleaned.
Cooking a Jumbo John Dory
I love cooking jumbo John Dories.
They’re big enough that I can feed quite a few people, but they still retain their silky texture and delicious flavor after being cooked.
Here’s how to cook a jumbo John Dory:
- Place the whole fish onto a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Pat dry using a paper towel.
- Season with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with lemon pepper.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes per pound (455 g).
- Serve immediately with crusty bread and a crisp green salad.
What Is The Best Way To Cook A John Dory?
The taste of fresh, juicy john dory depends largely upon its preparation method.
The most popular cooking technique involves using a fillet knife to remove the skin from the meat before cooking it in a pan over medium-high heat.
Here are some tips regarding how to prepare this delicious fish:
- Wash the fish thoroughly under running water for at least 20 seconds, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Cut off any excess fat around the edges of the fillets using a sharp knife, being careful not to cut into the flesh.
- Remove all but two or three strips of skin along one edge of each fillet, then carefully separate the skin from the flesh using your fingers.
- Place the fillets skin-side down onto a cutting board and lay another piece of plastic wrap directly on top of them.
- Using the same knife used to remove the skin, score the skin so that it will peel away easily when cooked.
- Remove the remaining pieces of skin and discard.
- Season both sides of the fillets liberally with salt and pepper.
- Place the fillets skin-side up on a plate, cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Tips for eating John Dory
If you don’t have access to a grill, simply place the fillets skin-side down onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and broil the fillets in the oven until they begin to flake apart from one another.
Here are some additional tips for preparing the perfect meal:
- To ensure that the fillets remain moist while cooking, brush the tops of them lightly with olive oil.
- Once the fillets have finished cooking, serve them immediately with lemon wedges, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.
- A nice accompaniment would be a refreshing salad featuring mixed greens and thinly sliced red onions dressed with balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and fresh rosemary.
- You may also enjoy serving the fillets atop a bed of arugula garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds.
- For even more flavor, use white wine instead of water during the poaching stage.
How Can I Make A John Dory Recipe Healthier?
In this section, we will answer the question of how you can make your favorite John Dory recipe healthier.
We have already talked about what makes a good John Dory in our article titled, “Which type of John Dory should I buy?”.
In addition to that, here are some tips to help you prepare it.
- Use a healthy oil like olive oil instead of butter when sautéing the onions.
- You can use fresh parsley instead of dried herbs if you prefer.
- Reduce the amount of salt used in the sauce.
- Add a dash of lemon juice to the sauce to boost its flavor.
- Try adding in some garlic powder, paprika, chili pepper flakes, and/or cayenne pepper to amp up the flavors.
- If you want to take things even further, try making a homemade tomato-based marinade using tomatoes, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil leaves, and minced garlic.
- For more ideas, check out these other delicious recipes for John Dory!
What Are Some John Dory Recipes?
The most common way to prepare John Dory is to grill it over hot coals.
The rich flavor of this delicious fish makes grilling in particular a particularly popular method of preparation.
There are many variations of cooking methods for John Dory, including baking, sautéing, broiling, poaching, steaming, and even smoking!
Another great option is pan frying, which involves using very little oil in order to keep your food healthy.
It also allows you to get more taste out of each bite than other cooking methods would allow.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy John Dory is to serve it raw.
While this isn’t exactly recommended for health reasons, it does provide a unique experience when paired with certain ingredients like arugula and lemon juice.
You could try this method yourself, but be sure to consult a reputable source before doing so.
Grilling John Dory over live fire produces the best results since the intense heat caramelizes the fat content and brings out the natural flavors in the meat.
Grilling requires less effort compared to other methods of preparing John Dory.
If you prefer not to use any kind of external heat source, then you may want to consider baking your John Dory instead.
There are several different types of ovens available today, depending on what type of cooking you desire.
- Baking – Baked foods require minimal attention from you while they cook, making them perfect for busy cooks who don’t have time to spend standing over a hot stove.
- Broiling – Broiled foods give off maximum heat, requiring just enough care to avoid burning your food.
- Sautéeing – Sautéed foods require constant stirring throughout their entire cooking process in order to prevent food from sticking together.
- Poaching – Poached foods require minimum attention during their whole cooking process.
- They are still tender after being submerged in water.
- Steaming – Steamed foods require only small amounts of liquid to create steam.
- They take longer than boiling, but don’t require much attention at all.
- Pan-frying – Pan-fried foods need very little oil to produce crispy, flavorful pieces of food.
Because John Dory contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, there are numerous health benefits associated with eating it regularly.
Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and fight heart disease, while Vitamin D helps maintain proper calcium balance, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
In addition, John Dory is packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it provides a wide variety of nutrients necessary for optimal human development.
How Do I Know If My John Dory Is Cooked?
The way to tell if your John Dory is done cooking depends largely on how you intend to use it.
If you plan on serving the entire fish whole, simply make sure the flesh of the fish turns opaque when pierced with a fork.
However, if you would like to serve just one fillet, you may want to cook it until it reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you could also try checking whether the skin of the fish starts to wrinkle slightly.
Cooking method 1: Pan-frying
This is probably the easiest and most common way to prepare this delicious fish.
You will need a large skillet, preferably cast iron, and enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Heat the oil over medium heat, then add the fish.
Cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
Remove from the heat and let cool before digging into!
Cooking method 2: Grilling
Another easy option for preparing this tasty fish is grilling it.
It’s important to keep in mind that the flavor of grilled fish tends to get stronger the longer it cooks.
To grill the fish, place it directly onto the hot surface of a charcoal grill or gas grill.
Turn after 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness.
Grill until the fish is firm but not too dry, approximately 8 to 10 minutes total, turning every few minutes.
Cooking method 3: Baking
Baking is another great way to enjoy this delicacy.
Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit, then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out half of the slices of fish evenly across the sheet, without overlapping each other.
Bake for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Serve immediately, while still warm.
- 1 Skillet
- 1 Oven
- 2 John Dory Fillets
- 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup butter
- 4 TBS non-pareil capers
- 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
- live oil
- salt and black pepper
- Set the oven’s temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. A baking dish that can accommodate the fish fillets in one layer should be greased. Add a little black pepper and salt to taste. Put them on the baking sheet skin side down. Depending on the thickness of the fish, bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cooked, the fish should flake easily.
- Make the sauce while the fish is baking. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until it starts to froth. Heat it further until it barely starts to turn golden brown and starts to smell nutty. Make sure to prevent burning. Add half of the lemon juice/water mixture right away. Only a small amount of the remaining lemon/water mixture should be added after tasting. (I use all of it, but I especially enjoy lemon’s flavour.) Let it simmer and vigorously bubble. Add the parsley and capers. Keep heated until the fish is finished, then season to taste. Pour over the cooked fish right away, then plate.