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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Julienne, the fish, on French Menus. Ling or Lingue in French cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated April 2018
Julienne, Lingue, Lingue Blanche or Lingue Espagnol.
Ling, European Ling, White Ling or Spanish Ling.
I have enjoyed ling, the fish, in France where it used to be, and still occasionally is on the menu as lingue. Then, in a restaurant in the town of Beaucaire, 25 km (16 miles) from the beautiful city of Avignon in south-eastern France, I learned that which we call a ling by any other name will taste as sweet as Julienne.  On the menu was a fish called Julienne; however, at the time I only knew of Julienne as a distinct cut used for vegetables.  
My pocket French-English dictionary offered Julienne as a “long fish,” but that is not a very helpful description for a diner.  Fortunately, I was in a restaurant where the Maitre D’, knew his fish, and while he did not use the name Lingue or Ling, he told me that it was an excellent fish from the cod family. There are many different fish from the cod family and I have enjoyed quite a few of them under a variety of names so I ordered the Filet of Julienne.  The dish was well prepared and the fish was excellent, and as expected it had a similar taste and texture to cod.  N.B. Cod is neck to neck with salmon as the most popular fish in France. 
Face to face with a Ling.

Ling, have long, tapered, tubular, bodies which, at first sight when pulled from the sea, may be thought of as a large fat eel.   These fish often reach 1 meter (3.3’) in length though you will rarely see a whole Ling on sale at a fishmonger’s as mostly are caught in the frozen north and reach the French markets as chilled filets.   Since Ling are members of the cod family, their meat is white, firm, and slightly flaky and easily mistaken for cod when served with a sauce.
N.B. The name Julienne for this fish is confusing as one of the traditional cuts of French vegetable is called Julienne. All French chefs must learn the exact cuts of vegetables before they graduate and a Julienne de Légumes will be long, thin cuts of vegetables, about 5cm by  2mm x 2mm (2” x .08” x .08”).
A Julienne de Legumes.
Vegetables cut as Julienne
The word Julienne or Lingue on French menus covers two very close members of the Ling, fish family. There is no practical way to tell the difference when these two fish are cooked, and so no harm is done.  However, there is a third member of the Ling family also seen on French menus called the  Lingue Bleue, the Blue Ling.  It is a smaller fish with a slightly different texture and taste, and so it is not the included in this post.
Julienne (Lingue) on French Menus:
Dos de Julienne au Cote du Jura –  A thick cut from the back of the fish served with a sauce made from a white wine from the department of Jura in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. that borders Switzerland. The Cotes du Jura wines include whites, roses, and reds as well as their unique Vin Jaune AOP: Vin de Paille AOP, and their excellent and inexpensive sparkling Crémant du Jura.
The Cotes du Jura Vin Juan, yellow wine, is made from Savagnin grapes. Vin Jaune tastes somewhat similar to a Fino Sherry, though it is not fortified like sherry, and usually has 13% alcohol. Vin Jaune only sold after six years and three months in a barrel; then it will be bottled.  
Catch your own Ling.
Photograph courtesy of Ken Curtis
Filet de Julienne à la Nantaise – A filet of Ling served with one of France’s favorite sauces for fish. Sauce Nantaise is also called Sauce Beurre Nantaise or Sauce Beurre Blanc; it is named after the lovely City of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes itself is set on the River Loire.  This menu listing was my introduction to Ling under its now more popular French name Julienne.
The English language website of the Nantes Tourist Information Office is:
The City of Nantes.
Photograph courtesy of Pierre Guezingar 

Médaillon de Lingue Poché et sa Crème aux Poireaux – A ling filet poached in a cream of leek sauce.  The word médaillon, a medallion in English, indicates a round or oval cut; however, with fish médaillon, is used as an alternative name for a filet.    
Grilled Ling.
Photograph courtesy of Prayitno
Pavé de Julienne à la Crème d'Amande et Féve Tonka. A thick cut of Ling served with a cream of almond sauce flavored with the tonca bean.  The tonca or tonquin bean is a plant from South American with a strong vanilla aroma. If you sniff a little more, you will also find the scent of cherries and cinnamon. In France, the tonka bean is mostly used in aniseed flavored alcoholic drinks.  N.B. The tonca bean is not a real bean, it is from the pea family.  In the USA, for reasons as yet unclear to me, the sale of the tonka bean is controlled. 

For more about the tonca bean see Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages:

Ling Sushi
Photograph courtesy of John.

Suprême de Julienne Sauce ChampagneA filet of Ling served in a champagne sauce.  The cut called suprême will usually be on menus listings for breast of chicken, pigeon, Guinea fowl and other birds. Nevertheless, when a chef gets bored using the word filet for fish then suprême may appear on the menu.
 The town of Beaucaire.
Beaucaire, where I was introduced to Ling under its newly popular name Julienne, is in the department of Gard in the region of Occitanie in southeastern France.  From Beaucaire, you may rent a self-drive motor cabin cruiser, with bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, and air-conditioning and sail down the Beaucaire Canal to the Mediterranean at the fishing port of Sète. From Sète you may continue along France’s canals and rivers all the way to Bordeaux on the Atlantic.  Beaucaire may seem like a small, sleepy town today, but it held a vital role in French commerce before the arrival of the railways. The English language website of the Beaucaire tourist information office is:

A Beaucaire parking lot.
Photograph courtesy of GK Sens-Yonne.
The day after enjoying the Julienne in Beaucaire I took the opportunity to visit the main fresh produce market in Arles.  The city of Arles is the gateway to the Camargue.  and a 25-minute drive from Beaucaire. Arles is also famous for the pictures of sunflowers that Vincent Van Gough painted there.  Unfortunately, none of  Van Gogh ’s original paintings remain in Arles.  It was here that Van Gogh invited Paul Gauguin as a guest to his home and would later cut off his own ear, making Gauguin taking him to a hospital and then on to a lunatic asylum. You may visit the home of Van Gough in Arles and view the hospital where he was taken.   

The Arles Produce Market

In the Arles market among some other food research, I was engaged in I asked a fishmonger about the fish called Julienne. Fortuitously, I had found a knowledgeable fishmonger, who put up with my problematic French. He confirmed that Julienne is the fish called Lingue in commercial French with Julienne now used as a more marketable name. Then, pointing to boxes just received he identified chilled, but not frozen, filets of Ling that he gets every two days from his wholesaler.  From the dates on the box, I could see the fish were packed in Norway and had taken four days from ship to shop. The fishmonger added that he occasionally receives whole fresh Ling from the Mediterranean, but his restaurant and fishmonger customers prefer the chilled variety as mostly they prefer the fish already skinned and deboned.
Roman Arles.
Apart from fish, Van Gogh, and Paul Gaugin, Arles has the best preserved Roman amphitheater in Europe.  The Arles English Language Tourist Information Office website is:
The Roman amphitheater of Arles.
Another fish from North America called Ling.
There is a fish called Ling or Red Hake caught off the East coast of the United States; however, this is a much smaller fish and from a different family to the Ling seen in Europe and the Mediterranean.
The names of the European Ling (Julienne) in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - llenga de bacallà), Dutch – leng), (German – leng, blauleng ), (Italian – ciclopi, molva),  (Spanish – barbada, maruca).
The names of the Spanish Ling (Julienne) in the languages of France’s neighbors.”
(Catalan - (Dutch - middellandse-zeeleng),(German - mittelmeer-leng), (Italian - molva occhiona), (Spanish – arbitán, llengua de bacallá). 
Thanks for help with the names of Ling in other languages go to  Froese, R., and D. Pauly. Editors. 2015. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (08/2015).
The Camargue, France. The Land, its People and its Own Unique Cuisine.

The Vins de Jura - The Wines of the French Jura. Jura Wines on French Menus.

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Bryan G. Newman

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