Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fera, Féra, or Palée du Léman.The Broad Whitefish on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman


The Broad Whitefish

Féra, Fera, Palée and Palée du Léman –  The broad whitefish.  For the French this is considered a freshwater fish and most will have come from a French river or lake.  Elsewhere this fish may be caught at the mouth of rivers close to the sea.
   The broad whitefish has white, delicate, firm flesh, and will be prepared like other family members salmon and trout, it will be grilled, fried, poached or smoked. This is one of the tastiest freshwater fish in France.

The broad whitefish on French menus:
Filet de Féra du Léman aux Morilles et ses Pâtes Fraîches  A filet of the broad whitefish from Lake Leman; prepared with morel mushrooms and fresh pasta. Lake Leman, also calledLake Geneva, is considered to be the source of the very best of these fish.
Féra du Lac Léman Dorée au Beurre -  The broad whitefish from  Lake Leman; cooked until golden in butter.
 Le Filet de Féra du Lac Léman en Coulibiac Revisité, Émulsion de Crustacés  A filet of the broad whitefish from Lake Leman and prepared with a traditional coulibiac recipe “revisited,” and served with a shellfish sauce.  Coulibiac is a traditional way to prepare salmon by layering the salmon with spinach and rice. The use of the word revisited indicates the chef is paying his respects to the original recipe and indicates that he or she will have made some changes. In this case the chef is not using salmon, rather the broad whitefish.
    In both France and Switzerland the broad whitefish is especially valued when it comes from Lac Leman, Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva is the 2nd largest lake in Europe; it is 73 kms long and 14 kms wide.  The lake borders Switzerland and France and France has 40% of the coastline and 40% of the fishing rights.

    The French government stocks the lakes with hatchlings. In this manner fishermen and women, professional and amateur, the restaurants and the diners are ensured a plentiful supply. At least, here they are not over-fished without restocking.

   The fish you see and taste in France is very different to another family member of broad whitefish that is offered in Alaska and in the Northern seas. These members of the same family  have different diets, and when cooked both have excellent, but, different tastes and textures.

Photograph courtesy of  US Fish and Wildlife Service.
A broad whitefish caught in the sea off Alaska.
   (Catalan -corègon), (German - grosse märane), (Swias-French - féra), (Swiss- German - sandfelchen), (Italian –coregone).

      Bryan G. Newman

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