Josh Niland’s “fish & bits” recipe with John Dory

Recipe: Roasted John Dory & Fennel Juices

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Skills needed: moderate – hard
Serves: 4

For the Fennel

  • 500g Fennel
  • 2 x John Dory Frames
  • 125ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 125g butter
  • 350ml white wine
  • 1 pinch maldon sea salt
  • 280ml verjuice
  • 100ml chardonnay vinegar


Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius.

Add the butter, wine & oil to a large shallow pot.

Place pot over medium high heat to melt the butter, then add the salt.

Cut the fennel into 3 pieces if using whole fennel so that the root holds the thick slices together.

Lay these fennel steaks cut side down to cover the base of the pan.

As the wine fully evaporates the fennel will begin to caramelize.

The idea is to get maximum caramelization without burning the pan

Once well browned, flip the fennel over and glaze the other side until the pan is caramel brown and all the fennel is very well caramelized not burnt.

Roast the John Dory Frame in the oven on a roasting tray having lightly oiled it before roasting; this will take approximately 15-20mins.

Once the John Dory frame is completely golden brown, add this to the fennel and crush it in to the pan with a wooden spoon to ensure maximum flavor from the bones.

Deglaze the pot with all the liquids and scrape every bit of brown from the pan and reduce down until slightly thickened and concentrated – a good balance of the caramelized sugars from the fennel, the meatiness and savory taste from the John Dory & the acidity from the verjuice & chardonnay vinegar.

If more salt is needed, add more at this stage. Crush the fennel & bone sauce through a sieve and push hard on the solids to ensure a thick viscous sauce

John Dory with all its Parts             

  • 1-1.2kg Whole untouched John Dory (uncleaned)
  • 40g Rice flour
  • 40g Maldon Sea salt
  • 2x slices sourdough bread
  • 100g parsley leaves picked
  • 1 x lemon
  • 80ml clarified butter                                                        


Start by removing the fillets from the John Dory being sure not to puncture the gut with the tip of your knife.

Proceed to then carefully remove the roe sack and the liver from the cavity of the fish.

Set the liver aside in a bowl of salt water approx. 10% salt water solution.

Cover the roe sack in salt and set aside for a minimum of 14days.

Reserve the John Dory bone for the fennel sauce as seen in the recipe above.

Place a medium non- stick frypan over a high heat with enough clarified butter that the pan has a very thin layer.

Bring this fat to a light haze & proceed to dust the John Dory Fillet with a small amount of rice flour on the skin only, this is to remove any surface moisture the skin may have.

Gently add the fillet being careful to add the fish in the pan away from you to avoid any burns.

Place a square of baking paper a top of the fillet and then a medium saucepan or fish weight directly on top of the fish.

Lower the heat to ensure that the skin doesn’t buckle or burn.

Keep on a steady heat for even cooking, rotating the weight of the saucepan resting on top of the fish around the surface to ensure a crisp even skin.

Once the top of the fish is warm to touch and you can see the heat has travelled up the sides of the fish, remove the weight on top and the paper square.

Turn the fish over to the flesh side then quickly remove from the pan to avoid overcooking.

John Dory should be eaten medium rare for best flavour & texture.

If overcooked it will become very firm, lack moisture, often have a wet finish to the skin & overall taste like dry chicken.

Rest the John Dory fillet in the middle of a clean warm white plate.

Spoon over roasted John Dory – Fennel Juices.

Serve alongside a crostini of sautéed John Dory liver & parsley that has been seasoned with John Dory Bottarga.

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