Saturday, September 7, 2019

Grondin Rouge - Red Gurnard. The Red Gunard in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The Red Gunard.

The Grondin Rouge, the Red Gunard is a tasty fish with firm white to white ivory meat. It will be fresh on nearly all of France's fish restaurant menus, and they are also popular in the home as they are easily and quickly cooked. The fish are almost always bought and served as filets because most fish are too large for a single diner. The small fish are very bony but are sought after for the flavor they bring to fish soups..
The Red Gunard is a member of the scorpionfish family, and it does have a little poison in some spikes on their gils and on their dorsal fins (back fins).   Worry not they will have been removed before being sold in the supermarket or offered by a restaurant.
The red gunard and close family members will be on menus all over France as they are caught both in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic; they will be offered grilled, fried, poached, or baked. 

Red Gunard
Print from 1763-1764

 The Red Gunard on French Menus:
Filet de Grondin Rouge Sauce Saint Jacques au Crémant - Red Gunard served with a sauce made from the king scallop meat with a Crémant sparkling wine. (Since this menu  listing came from a menu  in Burgundy it  would have been the Crémant de Bourgogne).

Grondin Rouge Provencal.
Filet de Grondin Rouge, Soufflé de Homard, Sauce Champagne – A filet of red gunard served with a soufflé made from the two-clawed European lobster and a Champagne accented Sauce.

Grondin Rouge, Caviar d'Aubergine, Légumes de Printemps Braisés, Jus Charcuterie - Red Gunard served with eggplant caviar and braised spring vegetables. Eggplant caviar has many variations though the most well-known is Papeton d'Aubergine.  I imagine that this is the recipe used here or it will be very close.  The sauce, a Jus Charcuterie is a meat sauce; here it will have been made with the addition of white wine and flavored with herbs. (Charcutiers originally only sold cured or uncooked meat products but now are usually joined together with Traiteurs who originally only sold cooked foods.  Many of these combined Charcuterie- Traiteurs are incredible, fabulous delis).
Charcuterie – Traiteur.
Grondin Rouge et Ratatouille Citronnée, Sauce Vierge – Red Gunard served with lemon accented Ratatouille and a Sauce Vierge.  Sauce Vierge - A virgin sauce with the name coming from the use of virgin olive oil. Sauce Vierge will most usually be on your menu with fish dishes.  With the virgin olive oil will be fresh tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, basil, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper. The sauce will be served slightly warm but not cooked as olive oil loses all of its flavors when cooked. The sauce will be poured on the fish just before it is served. The inclusion of  Ratatouille and a Sauce Vierge allows me to place this dish in the City of Nice on the Meditteranean or certainly in Provence. 
Grondin Rouge, Juste Cuit / Courgette Fleur Farcie / Vierge Acidulée   –   Red gunard perfectly and lightly cooked served with stuffed courgette (USA zucchini)  flowers with a slightly acidic virgin sauce.  (For more about Virgin Sauce see the menu listing above).

Pan-fried cod filet with sauce vierge.

Grondin Rouge Juste Rôt i, Jeunes Poireaux et Shimeji – A red gunard perfectly roasted and served with young leeks and Shimeji mushrooms. -  Shimeji is the Japanese name and the adopted French name for an Asian mushroom now farmed in France. (A close family member does grow wild in Northern Europe).  The variety called the buna-shimeji is the one most likely to be on this French menu. This particular mushroom is admired because it passes on to the foods cooked with it the taste of UMAMI.  (The Latin name of  buna-shimeji  is hypsizygus marmoreus or hypsizygus tessellatus). 

Red Gunard
 This fish is rarely seen on UK menus as the Brits demand their favorites, Cod, Salmon, Tuna, and Shrimp, none of which are caught locally.   Despite being headlined by celebrity chefs, the gunard family members rarely make UK menus.  British fishermen and women consider this a bycatch:  they happily unload their unwelcomed catches onto French boats where it will be sold in France as a very tasty and relatively inexpensive fish. The red gunard and its family members are flown to the USA chilled or frozen from as far away as New Zealand.

Red gurnard with cockles and vegetables.

The Grondin Gallinette, the Sapphirine Gurnard , tub gurnards or Common Searobin is another member of the scorpionfish family. Sapphirine gurnard and the Red Gunard are both highly valued for their taste and one or another of these two very similar fish will be an essential part of an authentic Bouillabaisse or Bouillabaisse Marseille and in the North of France in the different tasting Bouillabaisse de Nord.

The Grondin Rouge, the Red Gunard in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan -  iluerna roja), (Dutch -engelse poon), (German -seekuckuck), (Italian - capone coccio), (Spanish - peona), (Latin  - aspitrigla cuculus)


Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2019

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog, contact Bryan Newman.

Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Salade Mesclun – Salad Mesclun in French Cuisine

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

It is a sad day in France when a salade vert, a green salad, is just two types of wilted lettuces, with a few overgrown roquet (rocket/arugula) leaves thrown on a plate and served.  Nevertheless, a  marked down, worn-out green salad does happen in France, even if it is on rare occasions. But a Salade Mesclun served badly without the correct types of ingredients providing the tastes and textures intended is a day of pain for all lovers of French cuisine.

From the north to the South of France, and from talking both to many educated diners and chefs, there is a clear format for preparing a Salade Mesclun.  Every good chef that I asked stated categorically that a salade mesclun must include at least five different salad greens with six being even better. The ingredients are carefully chosen to bring together taste, texture, color, and arrangement.

At its simplest, a Salade Mesclun includes two types of lettuce often Romaine (Cos lettuce) with its herb tinged flavor, with the leaves taken from the heart and iceberg lettuce (bright and crunchy).  Then comes Mache, lamb's lettuce (sweet and nutty), escarole (crispy and sharp), Roquet, rocket/arugula (spicy); and lightly cooked Haricot Vert, baby green beans (sweet). All served with a well-made vinaigrette sauce. Their combined colors, tastes, and textures are a Salade Mesclun and shows a concerned chef in the kitchen.

Salad Mesclun with added tomatoes and figs.

Describing a Salade Mesclun as a mixed salad in the usual North American or UK construct is an insult. A salade mesclun correctly prepared it is a gem from the book of French cuisine, balanced and carefully constructed, not thrown together,

The ingredients will change with the seasons, and so  Salade Mesclun may include Pissenlit, dandelion leaves (spicy); Treviso Radicchio, radicchio (bitter and a flash of color); Endive, the Belgian Endive (crunch);  Chicorée Frisée, the curly endive; and Red or Green Feuille de Chêne, oak leaf lettuce. These and other leaves added from France’s endless choice of baby vegetable shoots and herbs.

Don’t be surprised in a few tasty grapes, bean sprouts, roasted seeds, slices of red onion or similar are added. Your Salade Mesclun, remember, is all about taste and texture and some chefs may get carried away, but they can make great additions.

Mesclun just means mixed in the Provencal language of southern France but a Salade Mesclun is much more than any North American or British mixed salad.  A small Salade Mesclun may be an entree, but it more usually accompanies the main dish, often as part of a light lunch.

Salade Mesclun on your menu at a light lunch:

Assiette de Jambon San Daniele et Salade de Mesclun – A plate of San Daniele cured ham and a Salad Mesclun. Jambon de San Daniele is, despite being an Italian cured ham very much appreciated in France.  This ham uses sea salt for the salting process and is cured for a minimum of 13 months. The unique taste of this ham is claimed, by the producers, to be the result of the microclimate where the ham is aged. The small town of San Daniele de Friuli is 80 km (50 miles) from Venice.
Croque-Monsieur XXL, Mesclun – An extra, extra-large Croque Monsieur accompanied by a Salad Mesclun. Croque Monsieur is a simple but tasty French fast food.  It is a toasted sandwich made with Pain de Mie,, French sandwich bread, cooked ham, and Gruyere cheese. The sandwich is soaked in beaten egg and then fried gently or toasted until the outside is golden brown and the cheese inside melts. This XXL size will probably be a triple-decker.

Assiette de Saumon Fumé et Salade Mesclun Câpres – A plate of smoked salmon and a Salad Mesclun with capers.

Tartare de Bœuf, Servi Avec Toasts, Mesclun Salade – A Steak Tatar accompanied by toast and served with a Salade Mesclun.
Terrine de Lapin au Muscat sur Son Lit de Salade Mesclun – A rabbit pate flavored with a Muscat wine served on a bed of Salad Mesclun.
Smoked salmon and strawberries with Salade Mesclun

Salade de Chêvre Chaud Sur Mesclun – Warm goat’s cheese served on a Salad Mesclun.

Salade de Mesclun, Tomates, Saumon Fumé, Crabe, Crevettes – Salad Mesclun served with tomatoes, smoked salmon, crab meat and shrimp.
The ingredients of a Salade Mesclun

Roquet  - Arugula or Rocket

Roquet - Arugula or Rocket.

Roquet has dark green leaves and a peppery flavor along with an aroma that varies from nutty to oily that depends on the particular strain. The leaves vary in shape with the long and spiked leaves being the sharpest. If you prefer just a slight peppery taste, choose the smaller leaves when buying for your home.  Wild arugula/rocket plants are the most pungent of all the strains and so chefs who work with ramasseurs, gatherers, who bring them wild herbs and mushrooms only buy the youngest shoots.
Roquet – arugula/rocket in the languages of France’s neighbors:
 (Dutch - taket, taketkruid, tucolakers, tucola), (German - salatrauke, rauke, rucola), (Italian - rucola, ruchetta ), (Spanish - rúcula, oruga, jaramago, arrúgula, roqueta)

Endive, Endive Blanc - Belgian Endive, Witlof or Whiteleaf.  
Called chicons in Belgium).

Endive – Belgian Endive
Endive, the Belgian endive is shaped like a torpedo and is harvested when it is about 15cm (6") in length. It has tender, crunchy white leaves that grow with yellow edges. Endive leaves are mostly white with yellow to slightly light-green tips and are firm and crunchy; they are nutty and slightly bitter. On their own, the leaves are often used to display other dishes such as a seafood cocktail or a pâté. Endives may also be cooked and used as a garnish for the main dish, or the menu may offer a soupe à l'endive, an endive soup.

A Belgian endive with dark green leaves at its end is indicating that it has been on the shelf too long.  That's an indication that its flavor will have begun to change and that enjoyable crunchiness may also have begun to fade.

 If you are into endives, then you may meet your friends and colleagues every year in the pretty town on Bethune. Join them at the Fête de l'Endive, the town's Endive Fete; it is held on the last Sunday of February every year. Bethune is a lovely small town in the center of an important agricultural area and just 35 km (22 miles) from the city of Lille. It is in the department of Pas-de-Calais in the region of Hauts-de-France. On 1-1-2016 France changed many of its administrative regions and the new super region of Hauts-de-France was made up of the old regions of Picardie and Nord-Pas de Calais with Lille as the regional capital.

The Endive –- Belgian Endive in the language of France’s neighbors

(Catalan - xicoira), ( Dutch - wlde cichorei, wegenwachter ),(German -   endive, salatzichorie), (Italian - cicoria witloof), (Spanish - endibia, endibia witloof), (Latin - cichorium intybus var.foliosum).

Mâche or Mâche Nantaise - Lamb’s lettuce or Corn Salad

Valeriana locusta var. olitoria, lamb’s lettuce.
Early 20th-century drawing.
Mâche is France's tastiest contribution to a mixed salad. Mâche leaves are nutty, juicy, with just a tinge of spice, and a texture that goes well with other salad greens. The great taste and texture that mâche leaves bring to a green salad always make me wonder why it is so rarely available in the UK or North American menu listings.

The name lamb's lettuce comes from the spoon-shape of the leaves said to resemble a lamb's tongue. The name corn salad is associated with the plant because it grows like a weed in wheat fields. Lamb's lettuce grows wild all over Europe as well as North Africa, and North America. While it has been cultivated in Europe since the 16th century, it was mostly looked down upon as food for the peasantry until the 19th century.

 A Mache salad in France is also known as Salade de Prêtre, a priest's salad, and Salade de Chanoine, a canon's salad. Both belong to the Christian tradition of Lent when traditionally meat was not eaten, and so a salad with this salad green would star. Many other local names are seen in farmer's markets.
 Mâche in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan - canonges), (Dutch -  veldsla), (German – feldsalat, Rapunzel), (Italian -  dolcetta), (Spanish -   canónigo),  (Switzerland -  nüsslisalat or nüssler), (Latin -  valerianella locusta var. olitoria).

Haricot Vert – The Fresh Green Bean or Snap Bean;

Haricot Vert - Green beans.
The Fresh Haricot Vert, the French Green Bean is the most popular of all France's green beans. These particular beans are sweeter and have a more delicate texture than most other green beans. This bean is usually the only part of a salade mesclun that will be cooked before being incorporated in the salad. Despite that caveat, French chefs do make changes, and another cooked vegetable may sometimes be included.

The Haricot Jaune or Haricot Beurre – The fresh, yellow bean is a strain of the green bean and it tastes the same to me.  This is the only fresh bean that comes close in popularity to France's haricot vert and it may be included in the Salade Mesclun.  The shortest and youngest green and yellow beans are considered the tenderest and tastiest and as you will see in the market the most expensive.

The Haricot Vert – the Fresh Green Bean in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - fesol or mongeta), (Dutch - gewone boon  ), (German – gartenbohne, grüne bohne, schnittbohne), (Italian - fagiolo), (Spanish – judia verde). (Latin - phaseolus vulgaris var. vulgaris). Latin - Haricot commun, variété grimpante).

Chicorée Rouge -  Radicchio, Red-Leaved Chicory

Chicorée Rouge - The red-leaved chicory

Radicchio is a family of leafy vegetables with most hybrids developed in Italy, and they quickly became popular in France. Despite the variety of radicchios available in Italy, the most well-known and the most popular is the Chicorée Rouge the Radicchio or the Red-Leaved Chicory.  This radicchio family member is nearly round with leaves the color of Burgundy, but with white ribs. Apart from the white ribs, red chicory looks somewhere between a round red lettuce or a red cabbage though the taste and texture are very different.

The taste is lightly but pleasantly bitter, and like the other members of the radicchio family, (outside of a Salade Mesclun), the red-leaved chicory may also be served grilled or prepared as part of the main dish.

Chicorée Rouge - The red leaved chicory in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - radicchio),(Dutch - roodlof, radicchio rosso),(German - radicchio rosso di Chioggia), (Italian - radicchio di Chioggia), (Spanish   - achicoria de Chioggia), (Latin - cichorrium intybus var. foliosum).
Scarole, Chicorée Scarole, Scarole or Batavia -  Escarole or  Batavia Endive.

Scarole - Escarole

Chicorée Scarole or Escarole is related to Chicorée Frisée Frisée.  It is mildly bitter and leafy green with large and curly, crisp lettuce-like leaves that have a more noticeable flavor than most types of lettuce.  The Inner leaves are paler and have a lighter taste than outer leaves.  N.B. This is not the chicory plant used for making a caffeine-free coffee substitute, in French that is called Chicorée à Café Real and for the coffee substitute it is the roots that are used.

Scarole – Escarole in the languages of France’s neighbors:

Ccatalan - endívia), (Dutch - Andijvie, Escarol), (German -  Endivie-Eskariol, Eskariol Endivie, Eskariol, Endivi), (Italian - indivia scarola, Scarola), (Spanish - escarola), (Latin - :cichorium endivia var. latifolium).

Chicorée Frisée or Endive Frisée  – The Curly Endive sometimes called Frisée, Curly Endive, Chicory, Chicory Endive, Curly Chicory. (In the UK, curly endive is often simply called  endive which can lead to some confusion with other endives).
Chicorée Frisée - The Curly Endive

Chicorée Frisée or Endive Frisée is a member of the endive family and looks like lettuce with outer green eaves that curl in a lacy texture. In a salad, it adds a slightly crunchy texture with a slightly bitter taste. The lighter colored inner leaves are milder and are considered among the best for salads. have a crunchy stem, and add a lot of texture.   Curly endives may also be cooked, and maybe on menu listings as a garnish.  Their pale green, white, and yellow coloring is a result of the producer shielding them from light during the growing process in a similar manner to the Belgian Endive.

The Chicorée Frisée or Endive Frisée  – The curly endive in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - escarola. ), German - krausblättrige endivie ), (Italian - Indivia riccia), (Spanish – escarola.) (Latin - cichorium endivia var. crispum).

Sucrine - Bibb, Boston, or Little Gem

Sucrine - Bibb  Lettuce.

The Boston Bibb type lettuces are known for their light nutty and buttery taste, velvety texture, and slight crunch. They have loose, wavy, cupped light green leaves. Inside the leaves are more tightly bound, with a yellow tint. 

                                        Romaine lettuce
Romaine Lettuce


Romaine or cos lettuce  The romaine is sold as whole heads and the thick ribs, especially on the older outer leaves, have a milky fluid that gives the romaine its typically bitter herb taste.

(Catalan -  llarg, romà), (Dutch - bindsla), (German – römersalat, römischer, romana-salat), (Italian - lattuga romana), (Spanish - lechuga romana. lechuga romanita, cos), (lactuca sativa var. longifolia).

Pissenlit – Dandelion

Pissenlit – Dandelion

Dandelion greens are the green leaves from those flowers that pop up, uninvited, in the middle of a green lawn year after year with puffs that kids love to blow as they turn into numerous small florets.   The leaves are earthy, nutty, and, bitter with a sharp flavor much like radicchio, but more so.

The variety of dandelion green cultivated for sale at markets and grocery stores is milder than the intensely bitter and mineral-tasting garden weed. However, those garden weeds are perfectly edible but spicy,

The old French name for Dandelions is Dent de Lion, the lion’s tooth. The dandelion leaf is considered to resemble a lion’s tooth, and thanks to William the Conqueror the old French name Dent de Lion became the English name dandelion. William the conqueror and the cooks of his Norman Barons are responsible for half the names in the English kitchen.

The name Pissenlit used on most modern French menus have another translation; pissenlit translates as piss in your bed! (Don't ask me why the French prefer the name piss in the bed over lions' teeth)? That French name refers to the folk story that warned against eating dandelions and that story probably also came to England with the Normans. We, as children in England, were warned that if we ate dandelion leaves, we would wet the bed! That is not true/  However, the roots of the dandelion, which are not usually used in cooking, as they are a diuretic. The roots are part of French homeopathic medicine where they are used as a diuretic and that is the probable source of this old-wives tale that relates to the leaves.

Pissenlit – Dandelion leaves  in the  languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - xicoia ), (Dutch - paardenbloem ),(German – löwenzahn, bettnässer, hundeblume) (Italian - dente di leone),( Spanish -  diente de león),( (Latin – taraxacum officinale).
Feuilles de Chêne, - Oak Leaf Lettuce.
Feuilles de Chêne, - Oak Leaf Lettuce.
Photograph courtesy of  Forest and Kim Starr
The shape of this lettuce's leaves are similar to that of the oak tree, hence, its name.
This is a tender lettuce with more taste than most other lettuces. To be enjoyed it really needs to be very fresh and if you are buying it for home make sure it has a strong color as well as being crisp and firm. When you see wilted oak leaf leaves in your Salad Mesclun then you know it has been prepared to long in advance, send it back.

As with Batavia lettuce, there are several varieties of oak leaf lettuce—green, red, bronze—but they are all loose-leaf lettuces, meaning the leaves stay loose and do not have compact heads like iceberg lettuce

Oak Leaf lettuce in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(German - eichblatt ), (Italian - lattuga aalanova ), (Spanish - hoja de roble ), (Latin Lactuca sativa var. crispa 'F).

Laitue Iceberg - Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce
Photograph courtesy of Pin Interest

Originally called Crisphead this lettuce became known as Iceberg lettuce when it was brought in from California covered in crushed ice. Iceberg lettuce is in your Salade Mesclun for the crunch; its flavor is too mild to notice.

Iceberg Lettuce in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(German – krachsalat ), (Italian - latuca iceberg), (Spanish – lechuga de repollo ). (Latin - lactuca sativa var. capitata)

Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2019

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog, contact Bryan Newman.

Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" (best when including the inverted commas), and search with Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGO.   Behind the French Menu’s links, include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.

Connected Posts: