Dish deconstruction - Tassili at Grand Jersey
Food or art? We go behind the scenes with Richard Allen, chef at Tassili, Grand Jersey's Michelin-starred restaurant as he creates one of his signature dishes: turbot with chancre crab, textures of saffron, black quinoa and crab essence.
Richard Allen putting the final touches to his signature turbot dish
Favourite dish on the menu? 'This one actually! I love working with turbot. Cooking it sous-vide and then finishing it in the pan cooks it more gently and it produces a consistent result every time.'
What should you look for when you're buying fresh fish? 'Bright eyes, bouncy skin, bright gills, a natural slime to it. An old fish will be dry and wrinkly, a fresh one will be slimy! Line-caught turbot is the best, but if not you can source excellent fish from the Turbot Farm at St Catherine's'
Picked Jersey crab and fresh egg yolks
Favourite local produce? 'Jersey chancre crab is awesome. We're known for our Jersey Royals, which are great potatoes but for me Jersey crab is one of our top local products. It's out of this world - sweet fleshed and extremely high quality. If you can buy a live crab and cook it yourself that's great, but you can buy picked crab from a local supplier - I use Louis Jackson from the Fresh Fish Company. Use it the same day you buy it or cook it - crab is better the freshest it is.'
Chef's tip: 'Pan-frying fish? Don't oil the pan - this will create steam. Oil the fish instead first, this will give you more contact with the pan and you'll get a better result. Then I'll add butter and verjus - I use verjus (juice of unripe grapes) instead of lemon. It's not as harsh but still gives that acidic edge.'
Everything's made from scratch - here's the mayonnaise coming together: 'Egg yolks, Dijon mustard, chardonnay wine vinegar, and a chef's tip of how to create mayonnaise - a steady stream of oil while you whisk it together.'
Chef's tip: 'Make mayonnaise slowly - use quality ingredients and ensure you know where your eggs have come from. Or you can use pasteurised eggs in liquid form. I use chardonnay vinegar, but you could use malt vinegar if you prefer. It's better to whisk it the old fashioned way, because you can really control how it comes together.'
Is it all about constantly assessing the flavours? 'Yes - for much of our cooking we use Maldon sea salt for example because it's softer than ordinary table salt and you can build a profile of flavours in the pan gradually. I'm using tarragon, chives and chervil with this turbot - that's a great mix with fish. Tarragon, chervil and parsley are called TCP in the cheffing world, and they're a perfect addition to fish sauces. I've added chives instead of parsley for a twist.'
The signature turbot dish taking shape...
How has fine dining changed? 'There's more emphasis on flavour and texture. I think chefs went through a bit of a nouveau stage where we wanted to make the dishes look pretty, but now we've gone back to an easier more fluid presentation focusing on flavour profiles and textures. For example, we'll use goat's cheese and beetroot, but there'll be five different textures of beetroot in the dish.'
What's the secret of innovative flavour combinations? 'It's about finding winning combinations, and then refining them. Saffron and turbot work really well together. You have to balance the flavours as saffron can tend to have a metallic tang, but the creaminess of the crab counterbalances it.'
Turbot, chancre crab, textures of saffron,
black quinoa, crab essence
This dish is part of the a la carte menu at Tassili, Grand Jersey. To find out more about Tassili and make a booking, click here.