Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ciboulette – Chives, the herb, in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Whole and chopped chives
Photograph courtesy of isaccgriberg
Ciboulette – Chives.
A herb much used in French cuisine and also one of the herbs in the important French spice group Les Fines Herbes.  Chives are long, thin, straight, green blades that are hollow inside with a flavor that will remind you of baby spring onions.

On their own chives are used for making herbal butter, flavoring vinegar and the flowers from chive plants may also be used in salads. The chive is milder than most of its well-known family members that include garlic, onions, and leeks and that is the reason for its popularity. Chives work very well with eggs, cheese, yogurt, salads, sandwiches, creamy sauces, potato dishes, and omelets.

Potato skins with butter, sour cream and chives.
Cooking chives destroys most of their flavor and aroma, and for that reason chives will be added to a soup or stew  just before serving. French chefs always use fresh herbs as they know very well that dried chives have no taste. Fresh chives may be kept in the refrigerator for three or four days and deep frozen.
Chives on French menus:
Carpaccio de Thon à l'Huile d'Olive et CibouletteTuna Carpaccio marinated with olive oil and chives. (see Carpaccio).
Cassolette De Moules À La Crème De Ciboulette Et Aux Poireaux Gratinées Au Parmesan - Mussels cooked and served in a small cooking bowl with a cream of chives sauce,  along with leeks browned under the grill with Parmesan cheese.
Croustillant de Dorade, Sauce Ciboulette, Pointes d'Asperges Vertes - Crispy, crusty, fried gilthead seabream served with a chive sauce and green asparagus spears.
Escalope De Saumon Crème Et Ciboulette sur Rapés de Pommes De Terre, Salade Verte – A filet of salmon served with a cream of chive sauce served on grated potatoes and accompanied by a green salad.

Chopped chives
Chive tea is made by boiling freshly chopped chives.
Les Ravioles de Homard, Beurre à la Ciboulette – Lobster ravioli served with chive butter.
Saumon Fumé par Nos Soins, Crème Légère à la Ciboulette – Smoked salmon, prepared by us and served with a light cream of chive sauce.
Saumon Mariné, Crème Fouettée à la Ciboulette Marinated Salmon served with freshly whipped cream flavored with chives.

Chives in the market.
Chives are not an import from the New World, in fact, chives is one of the few herbs that naturally grew both in the New and Old World. In Northern Europe, Chives have been cultivated for at least 5.000 years, and the use of chives in homeopathic medicine was known and already employed by the Romans.
French chefs have ramasseurs, gatherers, who bring in wild herbs and mushrooms in season; however, with wild chives, the chef must be very careful as they are much stronger than the cultivated chives.

Wild chives and their flowers.
Young chive flowers are also added to white vinegar, then along with a few other additions they make an excellent vinaigrette.

Chives in the languages of France's neighbors:
(Catalan - all junciforme), (Dutch -  bieslook), (German – schnittlauch), (Italian  - erba cipollina, aglio ungherese), (Spanish – cebollino).
With thanks to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages for the translations:
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Bryan G. Newman
Copyright 2010,2016.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pageot, the fish. Sea Bream on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Pandora Bream
Photograph courtesy of
The sea bream family is very large and certainly one or more of the popular members from the Mediterranean or Arlantic will be on most French fish restaurant menus.  Pageot or Pagel  is the Common Pandora, Pandora Bream, Becker or King of the Breams. The other bream family member often seen on restaurant menus is the Pageot Rose or Dorade Rose, the Common Sea Bream, Black Spotted Sea Bream or Red Bream.  Another preferred member of the sea bream family is the Daurade or Daurade Royale, the Gilthead or Gilthead Sea Bream and it has its own post.

The Pageot, Pagel, Pageot Commune
Common Pandora. Pandora Bream, Becker, King of the Breams.
The Pandora bream is a tasty and a much-appreciated member of the sea bream family. Caught wild in the fish may be up to 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) and nearly all Pandora breams on French menus come from the Mediterranean, but smaller fish may come from fish farms.

The Pandora Bream on French Menus:
Filet de Pageot Rôti au Romarin – Filet of Pandora bream
roasted with rosemary
Friture de Petits Pageots (selon saison) – A fry-up of baby Pandora bream (depending on the season). A friture indicates tiny fish that may be eaten from head to tail.
Filets de Pageot de Méditerranée à la Planxa, Sauce au Banyuls et Mousseline d'Amandes Filets of Pandora bream from the Mediterranean cooked on the Planxa, served with a sauce made with the sweet Banyuls wine and an almond moose. The wine comes from  Banyuls sur Mer on the Mediterranean coast in Languedoc- Roussillon.

Photograph courtesy of Inspirational Food

Pageot Grillé au Fenouil –  Pandora Sea Bream grilled with fennel.

Pavé de Pageot Sauvage, Vierge de Légumes et Riz Vénéré – Large cut of wild Pandora bream served with raw vegetables and the black Venere rice from the Po Valley in Italy.
Salade Variée + Filet De Pageot à la Sauce au Bisque de Homard + Garniture – A mixed salad accompanying a fried filet of Pandora bream served with a  sauce made from a lobster bisque and accompanied by vegetables.

The Pandora bream in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - pagell), (Dutch - zeebrasem), (German - rotbrasse), (Italian - pagello fragolino), (Spanish  -  pajel).

Street name on Fish Island in Tower Hamlets, London E3.

Pageot Rose, Dorade Rose
Common Sea Bream, Black Spotted Sea Bream, Red Bream on French menus:

This fish is a relatively bony fish, but it is delicious. Some consider this fish to be the best of the bream family, and it is one of the larger members.  Like most bream, it will be on the menu grilled, pan-fried, but with the larger fish baked and served as filets the bones present no problem.

Aiguillettes de Dorade Rose Sauvage, Crème de Ciboulette – Slices of wild black spotted sea bream served with a cream of chive sauce. The indication of a wild fish here is to make sure the diner realizes that this is not a farmed fish, and he or she should expect a better tasting fish that will cost more. Fish are very much what they eat and fish caught in the wild have a much larger choice.

Dorade Rose Entière Farcie au Gingembre et Crevettes Roses – A whole black spotted sea bream stuffed with ginger and pink shrimps.

Dorade Rose, Ecrasé De Pommes De Terre, Ciboulette, Black spotted sea bream, mashed potatoes, and chives.
                      Pageot Rose, Dorade Rose

Le Pageot Rose Rôti au Citron et au Thym – Black spotted sea bream roasted with lemon and thyme.

Nems de Crevettes et Dorade Rose Sauce Aigre Douce, Cœur de Laitue, Menthe Fraîche – Spring rolls with shrimps and black spotted sea bream served with a sweet and sour sauce, lettuce heart and fresh mint.

Pageot Rose,  Asperges Vertes et Sauvages -  Black spotted sea bream served with green and wild asparagus.

Tartare de Dorade Rose, Tourteau et Avocat A Tartar of black spotted sea bream, made with the meat of the brown edible crab and served with avocado.
The black spotted sea bream in the languages of France’s neighbors.
 (Catalan - besuc de la piga), (Dutch - zeebrasem), (German – graubarsch, meerbrasse, seekarpfen), (Italian – rovello, pagro), (Spanish- barazo, goraz and vorazo),
Other members of the Sea Bream family that may be on the menu. On the menu, they will be cooked like the other bream, but both of the fishnoted below are smaller and usually caught when under one kilo (2.2lbs).

Pageot Acarne, Pageot Blanc or Acarne– Axillary sea bream, auxiliary sea bream
(Catalan - besuc blanc ), (Dutch - spaanse zeebrasem ), (German – achselfleckbrasse ), (Italian – pagello, pagello bastardo), (Spanish - aligote, besugo, pancho picudo),

Griset, Brême de Mer. - Black Bream. Black Sea Bream.
(Catalan – càntera), (Dutch - zeekarper), (German - streifenbrasse ), (Italian - tanuta), (Spanish Choupa )

A good catch.
With thanks to for help in translations: courtesy of Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2015. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (10/2015).

Connected Posts:
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyrights 2010, 2016.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fenouil - Fennel, the Herb, and the Vegetable.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Wild fennel flowers.
Using the fennel leaves and seeds.

The fennel plant seeds and leaves are herbs while its roots are a vegetable, and it is native to the Mediterranean and  to the cuisine of Southern Europe.   Fennel's young tender leaves are used as garnishes, in salads and to add its light anise flavor to sauces and soups. Fennel  is a member of the same family as dill which is even more popular in French cuisine However, fennel seeds and leaves are not used as much as dill as they have a stronger aniseed  flavor and so fennel requires a light touch. Today fennel is used in modern versions of Absinthe, the alcoholic drink,  and often replaces Star Anis, the spice, in Chinese Five Spice Powder.

The fennel  bulb (root) bulb.

The fennel bulb or root is used as a vegetable, it is crisp and often served raw, but it may also be braised, grilled, fried or stewed; the anise flavor of the bulb is much much lighter than that of the leaves. The root or bulb of the fennel plant in French is fenouil racine.

Fennel flowers and leaves.
Wild fennel

The fennel seeds and leaves from wild herbs are preferred by French chefs for fish and shellfish dishes. Gathering wild fennel is somewhat like collecting wild mushrooms with many restaurants employing ramasseurs, gatherers. These professionals as well as bringing wild mushrooms, in season bring herbs and fruits.  Fennel seeds and leaves will be in salads, soups, and stews and are often included in the herb group Herbes de Provence.  
Fennel on French Menus:
Filet de Bar Grillé, Fondant de Fenouil aux Raisins de Corinthe – A grilled filet of European Sea Bass served with a thick warm sauce of raisins made with black Corinth grapes and fennel.

Grilled fennel bulbs (roots).
Faux-filet de Bœuf Charolais du Bourbonnais AOP-Bœuf du Bourbonnais Caramélisé à la Tomate, Purée Fenouil, Rattes de Pays.  A North American rib steak or in the UK a sirloin steak from the Charolais cattle; this is one of Frances most famous breeds. The steak is caramelized with tomatoes and served with pureed fennel root and the favorite local ratte potatoes

Fennel seeds.
Filets de Rougets Justes Saisis, Pommes De Terre Et  Fenouil Fondants, Jus Réduit Comme une Soupe De Poisson – Filets of red mullet served exactly when ready with potatoes and warm fennel. The dish is served with a sauce flavored like a fish soup.
Maigre Poêlé sur la Peau, Fenouil Confit à l'Huile d'Olive de Nyons  - Meagre or Croaker, the fish, cooked in its skin, prepared with a fennel jam made with the olive oil of Nyons.
Filet de Bar Sauvage Amandes et Noisettes au Beurre de Fenouil. Filet of wild European Sea bass prepared with almonds, hazelnuts, and fennel butter. The emphasis on wild sea bass is so the customer clearly understands that these are not fish from sea farms, but truly wild.

Fennel bulbs (roots).
Pavé de Cabillaud sur Fenouil Confit aux Aromes d'Ananas, Beurre Au Citron Vert.  A thick slice of cod prepared on a bed of fennel jam scented with pineapple and served with lime butter.

Fennel and tomato soup
Médaillon de Sole au Fenouil Racine Crevettes à la Sauce aux Herbes.  A filet of sole served with fennel root and shrimps with a herb sauce. 
Fennel’s origins
Fennel is thought to have originated in Southern Europe and indeed has been cultivated there since before Roman times.  Fennel, with its aniseed flavor, is rarely applied with a heavy hand, while fennel roots may be cooked like any other vegetable.

The taste and looks of fennel and its fruits, along with its various names have caused confusion in French and many other languages, together with anis and dill. The fennel root, from its looks, is often thought to be a member of the onion family, which it is not. Fennel and dill are both members of the parsley family.

Seared tuna with cream sauce and fennel
Fennel in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan -  fonoll, fonollera), (Dutch - venkel),(German  - fenchel), (Italian – finocchio), (Spanish – hinojo).
Connected Posts:

Bryan G. Newman

Behind The French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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