Sunday, December 13, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 2

Guess who said these words:

"Bien utilisés, les cinq sens que nous possédons nous aident à apprécier les plaisirs simples et authentiques de l'existence, comme cuisiner ou faire l'amour, et l'importance de partager ces moments de bonheur."

Translation: "If we use them well, our five senses help us to appreciate the simple and authentic pleasures of human existence, like cooking and making love, and to share these moments of happiness (with others)."

Clue:  he's a famous French actor, and has incontestable talents in drama and comedy.


Who doesn't recognize that face?

Gérard Depardieu, it turns out, is not only an actor and co-owner of a French winery, he's also an author of a book - Ma Cuisine (Éditions Solar, Paris, 2005 - ISBN:  2-263-03868-X).

Surprised?  So was I!  But then, a Parisian isn't a Parisian if he doesn't talk of gourmet delights.  Depardieu comes across as a larger than life persona, someone who makes the most of life.  So it isn't shocking that he's come up with a livre de recettes of his own.  Besides, he owns reputable and high-end restaurants as well as a winery that has produced winners!

The table of contents of Ma Cuisine tells us that Monsieur Depardieu can tackle anything:  appetizers, soups, seafood, meat and chicken, vegetables, and desserts.

For today's recipe, I have chosen his Merlan Colbert - a fish dish.  I know most people will be thinking "turkey" during the holidays and probably won't venture into serving fish because not many people eat it at Christmas time.  But I'm sure there are some of you who would not mind deviating from the traditional turkey. 

Google pointed me to Brian St. Pierre's web site,  He explains that Merlan Colbert is a whiting fish which is breaded and fried in clarified butter.  It is also called Merlan de ligne Colbert and the French restaurant in Paris - La Fontaine Gaillon - is known for it.  Guess who owns the restaurant?

Here's Depardieu's recipe which I've translated for you!  The only thing is, there is no mention of clarified butter.  Mind you, there are many ways of cooking Merlan and this is probably his favorite version.  It's also a very simple recipe (Note: where he says 3 tablespoons of flour and breadcrumbs - I think you may need more).

Ingrédients / Ingredients



4 beaux merlans bien frais 4 very fresh whitings
3 cuillères à soupe bien bombées de farine 3 heaping tablespoons of flour (Depardieu does not say what kind of flour)
2 oeufs 2 eggs
3 cuillères à soupe de chapelure 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
sel, poivre salt, pepper
2 citrons jaunes 2 young lemons
1/2 bouqet de persil plat half bunch of flat parsley (not the curly parsley)
1 bain de friture 1 pan with hot oil

Procédure / Procedure

1. Nettoyez les merlans, séchez-les dans du papier absorbant, levez-les par le dos - c'est-à-dire tirez rapidement la queue pour retirer l'arête centrale, désarêtez-les avec une pince à épiler et laissez-les en attente.

English:  Clean the whitings and dry them with kitchen towels.  Raise them holding their back; that is, quickly grasp the tails to remove their middle bone.  Debone them with a pair of tweezers.  Set them aside.

(My comment:  I would ask the fish store to debone and clean them - will save you some time - and frustration)

2. Mettez dans une première assiete la farine; dans une deuxième assiette, cassez les oeufs, saulez, poivrez et battez-les légèrement; dans une troisième assiette, placez la chapelure.

English:  (you'll need 2 separate plates and a bowl for this step).  On the first plate, spread the flour.  In the bowl, break the eggs, add salt and pepper and beat lightly.  On the second  plate, spread the breadcrumbs.

3.  Faites chauffer l'huile de friture à 180 C.

English:  Heat the oil until it reaches 180 degrees C.

4.  Passez rapidement les merlans, un par un, dans la farine, puis trempez-les dans l'oeuf battu et enfin roulez-les dans la chapelure.  Lorsque les merlans sont bien enveloppés de cette panure, plongez-les dans l'huile brûlante, laissez-les cuire pendant une quinzaine de minutes.

English:  One by one, quickly coat the whitings in flour,  soak them in the egg mixture and then roll them in breadcrumbs, making sure they're well-coated.  Fry them in the oil and leave them to cook for about 15 minutes.

5.  After they're cooked, lift them with a skimming ladle and place them on a very hot plate.  Put the lemons (cut in two segments) along the sides and sprinkle flat parsley over the fish.

Temps de préparation / Preparation time:  15 minutes

Temps de cuisson / Cooking time :  15 minutes

Pour 4 personnes:  for 4 people

Note:  there are numerous kinds of whiting.  If you're not sure what to buy, perhaps someone there has heard of Merlan Colbert, so just say, "pour faire la recette Merlan Colbert de Monsieur Depardieu!"  According to a food writer, the merlan's fresh when its eyes still look silver and "shiny."

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