Real French cooking: Let’s get to work!

I confess that I’ve spent half of this Good Friday cooking. I actually don’t know whether that’s considered a sin or not by our Christian authorities (I guess so) – but to defend myself, I would argue that it was all about fish and not meat. I’ve been working on an original creation, yes, I invented a dish by myself, believe it or not.

It all began with visiting the street market on Boulevard Richard Lenoir – finding three things: an excellent choice of bass (caught off the Atlantic shores the night before) besides great chunks of non-fatty salmon, and some beautiful green cabbage. I invested in all of them. And here’s what my family ate tonight (see the recipe description further down).

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The pictures explain the recipe quite well: You blanch the cabbage leaves and cut out the stalks. You arrange the leaves on a tea-towel and yes, you flatten them between two tea-towels with a rolling-pin, to get the kind of wrapper you need. You prepare a fish farce out of the salmon, cream and stuff (here’s an ok farce recipe but there are millions, of course, check your cookbooks!).

You build what the French call the appareil, meaning the whole thing: You spread some salmon farce on the cabbage leave wrapper, place one bass fillet, spread some more farce on top, place the other bass fillet on top and then you roll the whole thing. Careful! It’s a soft roll, handle with care (and two hands). Take the tea-towel to support your rolling effort. Now you have kind of a green sausage.

Pat dry. Heat some oil in a pan. Fry the appareil carefully, browning the cabbage wrapper. That’s very important because it enhances the overall flavor.  “Cook with your nose”, as the professional French chefs say: after a short while (two minutes?) a nice, caramely-cabbagey aroma should fill the air. And you’re not done yet!

The fish-cabbage-roll is only ready for steaming. Bring water to a boil in your steamer, cook the roll for five, seven, eight minutes, depending on the size of your preparation and your instinct. Then let rest! Serve warm or at room temperature. Eat with fresh baguette. Drink white wine like Saint-Véran, Pouilly-Fuissé or alike.


    • Thanks Jenna! In fact, the possibilities are endless…vegetable leaves, protein – you can wrap and roll whatever you find. One of the underestimated stars here are the leaves of chard (or silver beet) – very tasty, healthy, good.

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