Recipe courtesy of J. Bryce Whittlesey and Wheatleigh

Crispy Rouget with Wild Asparagus and Spring Garlic Broth

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 3 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 2 hr 20 min
  • Inactive: 45 min
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: 6 servings


Garlic Broth:

Fish Fumet:


  1. Prepare the garlic broth, then reserve.
  2. Heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and the diced asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Lay a butterflied rouget skin side-down on a clean surface. Spread a thin layer of the asparagus and shallot mixture over the exposed fish flesh. Fold the fish around the filling so it resumes its natural shape. Using butchers twine, tie the stuffed rouget at 1-inch intervals running from head to tail. Stuff and tie the remaining rouget.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the rouget with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the pan and saute until the fish is opaque and flaky, about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the Garlic Broth and wild asparagus in a small skillet (add a little water if the broth does not almost cover the asparagus). Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat, gently poaching the asparagus until just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. To serve, ladle Garlic Broth into 6 shallow bowls. Place a rouget in each bowl then garnish with poached asparagus.

Garlic Broth:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the fish heads and bones and cook, stirring occasionally until the flesh is opaque and the bones softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer the head and bones to a bowl and reserve. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add the onion, celery, carrot, leek, shallot, and garlic whites. Cook, still over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, saffron, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, continuing to stir from time to time, until the tomato juices are released and begin to concentrate, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Give the stock base another stir and add the reserved fish bones and heads, the Fish Fumet, and the chicken stock. Bring the broth to a simmer. Simmer the broth over medium heat, skimming occasionally until the broth is flavorful about 20 minutes. 
  2. Line a fine sieve with cheesecloth. Set the strainer over a pot. Ladle the broth through the strainer. Return the broth to the stove. Add the garlic greens and simmer gently until reduced by about one quarter, 15 minutes or so. Once again strain the broth through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. Chill the broth then keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Fish Fumet:

  1. Put the bones, onions, fennel, leek, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, star anise, and wine in a large pot. Add water to cover and slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at the gentlest simmer, skimming occasionally but not stirring, until fragrant, about 20 minutes. 
  2. Line a fine sieve with cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a pan or bowl and ladle the fumet through the sieve, taking care not to disturb the bones and vegetables at the bottom of the pot. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Cook's Note: Use bones from lean white fish like snapper or bass. Bones from dark fleshed and oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon) are too strong tasting for fumet.

Cook’s Note

This recipe calls for headless, butterflied, boned rouget. Have your fish monger prepare the fish (but be sure to ask for the heads and bones to make the Garlic Broth recipe below) or do-it-yourself. To prepare the fish at home, begin by cutting off the heads. (Remember to save them). Slice down both sides of the back bones, being careful not to cut through the bellies. Using scissors, snip the bones just inside the tail and remove the entire frame. Use bones from lean white fish like snapper or bass. Bones from dark fleshed and oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon) are too strong tasting for fumet.