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John Dory with Herb Crust (St Pierre à la Viennoise)

Looking for something delicious to make with John Dory? Here’s my favourite Parisian restaurant style fish made at home yet so easy to prepare in advance. This Viennoise style topping is a buttery herb and parmesan crust that hugs the fish under the grill.

john dory fish topped with a herb crust

John Dory Fish (St Pierre in French)

The signs were all there.  First this one, rue St Pierre – or St Peter’s Street- looked down on me as my keys dropped to the ground.

Was I heading for the Pearly Gates to say b-b-b-onjour?

French street sign saying Rue Saint-Pierre (meaning John Dory Street)

Thankfully to my relief, the sign appeared again a few minutes’ later at the local market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Saint Pierre – or John Dory – was laid out beautifully chez le poissonier. Taking it as the real sign, it was high time to do something with this gorgeously thick fish fillet.

What is à la Viennoise in French Cooking?

After tasting an incredible fish dish in Paris with a herb crust on a fillet of cod, I found a recipe by French chef, Vincent David. It looks sophisticated with a herb crust that actually clings to the fish. It’s not a breadcrumb topping piled high but a thin and elegant topping that has a savoury tuile effect (for my sweet recipe, see French tuiles).

This gourmet topping is referred to as à la viennoise. It’s when you coat the fish with a mixture of buttered parmesan with breadcrumbs.

By rolling it out, it turns into a thin, flat topping that can be cut to size directly over the fish.  This topping is added at the last minute and quickly finished off under the grill when it literally hugs the fish and the result is pretty on the plate as well as delicious.

Great Make-Ahead Prep for Freezing

I’ve made this so many times for guests that I’ve experimented. The good news? The topping freezes well, especially as you’ll have some left over.

Cut the topping into fillet portions and stack each slice between baking parchment and seal in a container in the freezer.  Use just at the last minute when needed, grilling just a minute longer.  It’s one less thing to worry about if you’re entertaining guests!

How to Make a Viennoise Herb Crust for John Dory

See printable recipe below. John Dory fish can be replaced with cod, hake or mahi-mahi.

mixing breadcrumbs and butter with parmesan and herbs

Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the breadcrumbs, parmesan and garlic.  Here I added  a tablespoon of dried seaweed (found in Asian supermarkets) but you can add freshly chopped herbs if you prefer.

put the mixed ingredients on a baking tray lined with paper

Spread the mixture out on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Flattening the mix with a rolling pin on top of more baking parchment

3.  Top with another baking parchment sheet and roll it out until it’s flat and even (about 3mm thickness).  Place in the fridge to set.

8. Season the fish fillets and fry in some olive oil and butter gently until just cooked; no more than 5 minutes, depending on thickness. Keep bathing the fish in the juices.

cooking John Dory fish

The viennoise topping is now ready to cut out of the fridge. If you have any extra, cut them into portions, place each between the paper and freeze until needed.

once chilled the herb topping can be cut to size

Place the fish in a roasting tin, layer the topping on top of it and melt it under the grill for a couple of minutes.

place the topping directly over John Dory filets

Just placing it under the grill gives a magical effect: the topping just hugs the fish like they were meant to be together.

When put under the grill it hugs the John Dory fish

Viennoise topping hugging the fish

Serve on a bed of vegetables and surround with my favourite smoked tea beurre blanc sauce. Enjoy with a chilled glass of white Burgundy.

john dory fish with grilled herb crust surrounded by vegetables and sauce

John Dory with Viennoise Crust

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : French
Keyword : herb crusted fish, crumb topping for fish, herb crusted fish fillet, parmesan herb crust topping, john dory recipe
Servings : 4 people

Description

John Dory (Saint Pierre in French) with a Viennoise herb and parmesan crust that hugs the fish.

Ingredients

  • 4 John Dory Fish fillets (or cod, hake, mahi-mahi)

Viennoise Topping (herb & parmesan crust for fish)

  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter
  • 100 g (3.5oz) breadcrumbs
  • 100 g (3.5oz) parmesan grated (from a fresh block, not from a packet)
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic and herbs.   Here I added a tablespoon of dried seaweed (found in Asian supermarkets) instead for something a bit different.
  • Spread the mixture out on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  • Top with another baking parchment sheet and roll it out until it’s flat and even (about 3mm thickness).  Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.
  • The viennoise topping is now ready to cut. If you have any extra, cut them into portions, place each between the paper and freeze until needed.
  • Place the fish in a roasting tin, layer the topping on top of it and melt it under the grill for a couple of minutes.
  • Just placing it under the grill gives a magical effect: the topping just hugs the fish like they were meant to be together.

Notes

Serve on a bed of vegetables and surround with a smoked tea beurre blanc sauce and enjoy with a chilled glass of white Burgundy.
 

From the market

From the kitchen

4 responses to “John Dory with Herb Crust (St Pierre à la Viennoise)”

  1. An African Teatime in Paris | Mad about Macarons! Le Teatime Blog in Paris says:

    […] chefs are infusing tea in their dishes these days. Have you tried this smoky beurre blanc with fish (using Lapsang-Souchong tea), or Theodor’s fragrant rice pudding? I’ve created a new […]

  2. JILL!!!!
    Helloooooo Darling Soul,
    Hope you & yours are healthy & happy.

    I’ve never forgotten this recipe & vowed to use it when required. May be quite a few months (ahem years?) but I’ve returned to find it & to try it again as its an absolutely fabulous recipe.
    Thank you, I will let you know of our success, (ha if I achieve such perfection). Adapting it to suit chunky white cod, (rare treat) served on bed of long runner green beans & red cabbage.

    All the very best 🙂

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you! So glad you’ve found this recipe from the archives to dish up. It’s one of my favourite mains since it’s easy yet and guests rave about it. Sounds great with the runner beans. Let me know how you got on. Jill x

      • Helloooooooo BeautifulLady,
        🙂 he he guess what I’m doing today for our neighbours – pre Chrimbo meal 🙂
        I absolutely adore this recipe, thank you so much & its always served with you in mind. Everyone that’s had it loves it. They also thinks its sooo restaurant posh ha ha & that I’m ‘ such a good cook’ they say . . all sounds great to me 🙂

        Hope you & yours are well, maybe we can email in the new year & catch up sometime.

        Last meal I took some lovely step by step photos just haven’t had time to put them on my Cauldron page yet.. obviously with credits going to yours 🙂
        This is actually my life saver fall back quickie recipe .. yet actually its outstanding as a pre planned dish too. Today I’ll be adding lime, chilli, ginger into breadcrumbs . . . .ha ha Ooooooh & sacrebleu ;O I used a single rooobi red bush tea bag ha ha & it was delicious & delicate . xXx

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