Julia Child and Loup de Mer
As Julia Child tells the story, “Simca, Paul, Patricia, and I… penetrated into this beautiful courtyard and were seated at a little white table beneath a leafy trellis.
It was a splendid lunch, moving from apéritifs to pâté of fresh duck livers and truffles, thick slices of pain brioche, a timbale, tomatoes and a green salad. But the real reason we were there was for the loup de mer, a Mediterranean sea bass.
If you’ve been cooking for a long time, you can usually guess how a dish is made. Simca and I studied every detail of this remarkable loup, and tried to deduce its secrets.
The waiter appeared, and I asked him a few questions, which he was only too happy to answer. It’s delicious, we agreed, as we polished off our lunch. And it really shouldn’t be too difficult to make.”
Excerpted from My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.
How to Cook Loup de Mer Fillets
Fresh loup de mer. Its character is delicate and unique. The meat is moist and buttery, flaky yet smooth, firm yet tender, silky and velvety, like nothing else really.
The skin is thin and delicious especially when sautéed to a crisp, or charred over a fire. Loup de mer is equally delightful served as boneless fillets or presented as the whole fish.
The fishmonger de-scales and guts the whole fresh fish. With a sharp knife, I make a perpendicular cut just behind the pectoral fin. Then starting near the head, make a one inch incision all the way down the back to the tail, as close to the backbone as possible.
Using the tip of the knife, in a smooth motion, continue to cut the flesh away from the bones all the way to the belly of the fish. Slice the flesh away from the tail fin. Flip the fish over and fillet the other side.
The fillets are rinsed and patted dry. Both sides are seasoned with salt and pepper then the skin side is dusted with Wondra (fine-milled) flour.
Let the fillets come close to room temperature before cooking. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. Add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the fillets, skin-side down. Turn the heat to medium high to prevent the oil from smoking.
Press the flesh of the fish with the back of a spatula to keep the fish from curling. Continue to press down with the spatula, squeezing out any air pockets between the skin and the flesh.
When the skin side is nice and crisp, turn the fillets over and briefly cook the other side.
Note: This is my simple step-by-step preparation for loup de mer. Julia’s loup recipe is actually baked in a magnificent brioche crust and served with sauce supreme.
Joyeux Anniversaire Julia Child
Today would have been Julia’s 104st birthday. It has been a tradition to celebrate her birthday here on Taste With The Eyes.
Back in 2013, on my side porch, I attempted to recreate that “beautiful courtyard and little white table beneath a leafy trellis” of which Julia spoke. Imagine lunching with Julia on a balmy afternoon gleefully discussing the merits of the delicate unique character of loup de mer.
Toujours Bon Appétit
Please join me in honoring this chef, mentor, heroine, author, television icon, inspiration, nonagenarian, friend.
Let’s raise a toast to Julia as we remember her words, “The pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appetit!”