The word comes from the Old French tourbout, which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo (“spinning top”) a possible reference to its shape. Early reference to the turbot can be found in a satirical poem (The Emperor’s Fish) by Juvenal, a Roman poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., suggesting this fish was a delicacy in the Roman empire.
COOKING / EATING BENEFITS
Turbot is a large, sandy-coloured flatfish that, alongside Dover sole, lemon sole, halibut, plaice and brill, is one of the most readily consumed flatfish in the UK. It’s fished in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, and farmed in countries including France and Spain, but supplies are limited so it commands high prices, making it a luxurious option for restaurants and a treat for most households.
Turbot is well liked for good reason: one fish provides four decent sized fillets; the flesh – which is stark white and firm with large flakes – holds together during cooking; and it has a subtle taste-of-the-sea flavour. Turbot is available all year and can be bought whole, in fillets or as steaks. When cooking a turbot fillet, make sure that it has been pin-boned. Try turbot fillets steamed, poached or grilled and served with a simple sauce. Some French chefs lovingly sauce the turbot with lobster or mousseline. Aim for light sauces that don’t overwhelm, such as hollandaise, white wine, Champagne or something herby like parsley or dill. Because of its luxurious reputation, turbot will often be served with a lobster dressing or oysters. Other fitting accompaniments include roasted fennel, cauliflower and celeriac purée.