This recipe closely follows one by Eckart Witzigmann and although it is incredibly complex and time-consuming to prepare, it is absolutely worth the effort: It tastes, quite simply, divine. And although it may be complex, I do not believe that it is really difficult to make. Just follow the instructions and get your timing right, i.e.:
- Start with the lentils. While they are boiling, prepare and fry the bacon and vegetable mix.
- When this is done, start preparing the sauce (i.e. reducing the white wine and vinegar and whip the cream).
- Fry the fish when the sauce and lentils are done and ready for serving. Keep both warm, but do not let the sauce reach boiling temperature anymore!
The original recipe also includes a side of potato rösti. I skipped those – it is already quite filling.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
For the pike-perch:
- 2-3 fillets of pike-perch, scaled & with Skin, all bones removed
- sea salt flakes
- freshly ground white pepper
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of concentrated butter (Butterschmalz)
For the lentils:
- 100 grams of Puy lentils
- approx. 400 ml. of chicken stock
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves
- 3-4 stalks of fresh thyme
- 3-4 stalks of fresh parsley
- 1 star anise
For the bacon & vegetable mix:
- 50 grams of Bacon (pork belly), finely diced
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1/2 parsnip, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic (whole), peeled
- 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
- freshly ground black pepper, salt
For the sauce:
- 2 finely chopped (small) shallots
- approx. 6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- approx. 6 tablespoons of dry white wine (e.g. Riesling)
- 200 ml of cream
- 100 grams of ice-cold butter, cut into small cubes (put the cubes into the freezer for at least 15 to 20 minutes before use)
- salt, freshly ground white pepper
- tip of a knife of Cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (medium hot)
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of whipped cream
For preparing the serving of the lentils:
- 2 anchovy fillet, very finely chopped
- 5-6 capers, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard (medium hot)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon of very finely chopped parsley
Preparing the pike-perch:
- Carefully rub the fillets with sea salt flakes and season with freshly ground white pepper. Drizzle some lemon juice over them.
- Cover with cling film and place in the fridge.
Preparing the lentils:
- Put the lentils into a sieve and wash in cold water. Drain the water.
- Put them into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Blanch for 5 minutes, then drain.
- Put them back into the pot and cover them with chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add the shallot larded with the cloves, the star anise and a bouquet garni comprising the thyme and the parsely. Simmer until al dente (approximately 30 minutes).
Preparing the bacon & vegetable mix:
- Fry the bacon on medium to hot heat until it starts to turn crispy.
- Add the garlic cloves, the onions, carrot, parsnip, and fry for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Fry for 1 to 2 more minutes and season with salt and pepper. Set aside (keep warm) until the lentils are cooked.
Preparing the sauce:
- Simmer the shallots in the white wine and vinegar on low heat until almost fully reduced.
- Add the cream and bring to simmering temperature. Then stir in the ice-cold butter. Warm up gently but make sure the sauce does not boil anymore after this point (the cold butter acts as sauce binder but the binding effect would be made to collapse if the sauce is boiled again)!
- Season with salt, white and Cayenne pepper as well as both types of mustard.
- Keep warm over gentle heat until served.
- Just before serving, add the whipped cream but do not let desolve completely.
Preparing the lentils for serving:
- Drain the lentils when al dente. Remove the shallot, the star anise and the bouquet garni.
- Mix the lentils with the bacon and vegetable mix.
- Season with vinegar and Dijon mustard to taste.
- Finally, stir in the chopped anchovy fillets and capers, and the lemon zest.
- Keep warm until served. Stir in the chopped parsley shortly before serving.
Frying the fish:
- Heat up the olive oil and the concentrated butter on high heat.
- When the fat is hot, add the fish, skin-side down, and fry for 4 minutes.
- Turn over and fry for another 2.5 minutes.
- Arrange some lentils in the center of each pre-heated plate.
- Place the pike-perch on top, skin-side up.
- Pour the Dijon mustard sauce around and some over the fish.
- Sprinkle with a little bit of chopped parsley.