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Friday, June 15, 2012

Barbue - Brill, the Fish. Brill in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated December 2017

Barbue – Brill.
Brill is a tasty but mild, well-textured fish, with firm white meat. On French menus Brill will be grilled or sautéed, but, just as often poached or baked, but always served with a sauce. Many recipes initially created for turbot are also offered for brill.
A braised brill filet

Brill and turbot are often confused though they have some recognizable differences but are related flatfish.  Wild turbot and brill have a very a similar taste and texture with the experts giving turbot a slightly stronger taste and somewhat firmer flesh. Despite that, since both turbot and brill are usually served with a sauce few of us can tell them apart when cooked.  
The most famous brill recipe is still on menus today though it was created over 150 years ago; that recipe is Filets de Barbue Duglére, brill in the manner of Duglére. In France's culinary history of Haute Cuisine Adolphe Duglére is one of its most famous and creative chefs.
Brill on French menus:

Barbue Sauvage Sauce aux Crustacés, et Pineau des Charentes - Wid brill served with a sauce made from crustaceans, (that will be mainly from shrimps and Dublin Bay Prawns) flavored with Pineau des Charentes, the Aperitif of France’s Cognac region. Pineau des Charentes comes in two versions, whites, really light to dark yellows, and rosés, with some of the rosés dark enough to be called reds. These are wines whose aging and fermentation has been stopped by the addition of Cognac. (Despite this menu listing's emphasis all brill are wild).
Filets de Barbue Duglére - Filets of brill in the manner of the chef Duglére. Here the fish is poached in the oven in a sauce based on fish stock, tomatoes, parsley, butter, shallots, and white wine.  This dish was created while Dugléré was the executive chef, at the legendary Café Anglais, Paris and is still on many menus though the Café Anglais closed 100 years ago.
  Filets de Barbue Duglére
Filet de Barbue Snacké, Faitout de Coques, Palourdes et Couteaux au Jus de Chlorophylle, Émulsion de Crevettes Grises – A lightly braised filet of brill served with a  casserole of cockles,  clams, and razor clams cooked in a green, vegetable broth and served in a thick sauce made from grey sand shrimps. French menus often include the named of the cooking utensils used and the faitout used here is a casserole; the same cooking pot may elsewhere be called a marmite.  Chlorophylle is chlorophyll, the green pigment of plants that allows photosynthesis. Here the chef is telling the diner that the green color of the broth comes from green leaf vegetables.  Depending on the vegetable used, for example, spinach, watercress, kale, cabbage, peas, and mint; the color may or may not add flavor.
Tronçon de Barbue Rôti au Beurre Salé et Velouté d'Huître Fine de Claire - A generous cut of brill roasted with a lightly salted butter and served with a velvety sauce made with fine de claire oysters.  This cut, a tronçon, (pronounced tronson) is a  traditional name used for filets from flatfish. Despite its origins tronçon is now used for a cut of meat also.  Fines de claire are oysters fattened for approximately one month before being sent to market.
Filet de Barbue, Noix de Saint-Jacques au Boudin Noir - Filet of brill prepared with the meat of the king scallop and slices of black pudding sausage.   
Brill, Oysters, Wasabi, Cucumber amazingness

Are brill and turbot different?
The two fish have similar tastes and textures. Consequently, restaurants have been known to use the smaller but similar tasting and less expensive barbue, brill, when wild turbot is unavailable, and I have seen a Parisian fish shop that was very clearly selling brill marked as turbot.  In a fishmonger's you can tell brill from turbot when they are uncooked and unskinned. The absence of the protruding skin bubbles that clearly mark a turbot is a clear giveaway.  Brill also have scales while turbot has none. Wild turbot may be over 70 cms long and a wild brill that reaches 50 cms long is a large brill. However, since much of the turbot on French menus comes from farmed fish when you do see brill on the menu go for it. Fish are what they eat.

Filet de Barbue, Artichaut Poivrade et Sauce aux Olives Vertes
Filet of brill served with baby artichokes and a green olive sauce.

Brill in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - Rèmol), (Dutch - griet ,(German – glattbutt), (Italian - rombo liscio), (Spanish -– corujo).
Brill in other languages:

(Chinese (Mandarin) –),  (Danish- slethvarre),  (Greek – Ρομβοπισί, romvopisi), (Hebrew – putit, פוטית).. (Portuguese -  rodovalho ), (Rumanian - calcan mic), (Russian – Romb), (Ukrainian - gladkii kalkan), (Turkish - Çivisizkalkan balığı). (Latin - scophthalmus rhombus). With thanks for assistance in these languages to Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (11/2014).
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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
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