John Dory Alla Carlina


Rick says: "When people ask me, ‘Where is your favourite restaurant in the world?’, I reply, ‘It depends how I am feeling.’ If you are in love, shall we say desperately in love, it has to be Locanda Cipriani on the Venetian island of Torcello on a crisp winter’s lunch time. You arrive reclining in a vaporetto with a view just skimming the water. You see the low islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. You go into Torcello cathedral and see the fabulous Byzantine mosaic of the Last Judgement. You are probably thinking of Hemingway and how he used to stay at Locanda Cipriani when he was duck shooting, and once persuaded them to keep it open all winter just for him. The sharp bright coldness gives you an appetite for lunch. You walk in and there is a log fire blazing and you sit down and order cicchetti and this John Dory dish . . .You will probably also want a glass or two of pinot grigio, such as Tiefenbrunner from Alto Adige in the Tyrol."


4 John Dory fillets (ask the fishmonger for the bones to make the stock)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 lemon, halved
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 small gherkins, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers: 1 tbsp finely chopped,1 tbsp whole
2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tbsp Tomato sauce
250ml Fish stock
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE: Makes about 600ml

6 tbsp olive oil
20g/4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1kg well-flavoured tomatoes, peeled, or 2 x 400g tins tomatoes

FOR THE FISH STOCK: Makes about 1.25 litres

1 onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, sliced
100g celery, sliced
100g carrots, sliced
25g button mushrooms, washed and sliced
Sprig thyme
2.25 litres water
1kg flatfish bones (such as brill, sole, plaice) or fillet



Season the John Dory fillets with some salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the fillets skin-side down and fry for 2–3 minutes until lightly browned, then season with a squeeze of lemon juice, turn the fish over and cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, gherkins, whole and chopped capers, tomatoes, tomato sauce and fish stock to the pan, bring to the boil then reduce by three- quarters to create the sauce. Add the fish carefully back to the pan for a minute to warm through in the sauce.

Serve immediately, drizzled with a little more olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parsley.


Salt and freshly ground black pepper Heat the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon as they cook. Cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened, then season with salt and pepper.The sauce is ready to use. If not using immediately, leave to cool, then refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for later use.


Put all the ingredients except the fish bones into a large pan, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the fish bones (or fish fillet) and bring back up to a simmer, skimming off any scum as it rises to the surface. Simmer for a further 20minutes. Strain through a sieve into a clean pan and simmer a little longer, if necessary, until reduced to about 1.25 litres. If not using immediately, cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

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