When arriving in Bretagne (Brittany) which is a centre for great seafood, it is time to prepare a regional classic:
Fish in Sauce Armoricaine
(Sauce à l’Armoricaine is a traditional recipe from coastal Brittany where it is most commonly prepared with shellfish, or used to flavour firm, white-fleshed fish such as monkfish. “Armorique” is the ancient name for the northern region of Brittany where the coast is called les Cȏtes d’Armor)
1¼ kilogram fresh, firm, white-flesh fish such as monkfish (South Africans would probably use yellowtail), cut into medallions
Plain, white flour
50 grams good quality salted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
50 ml brandy, warmed
2 cloves of garlic
1 white onion
2 shallots (or use more onion if unavailable)
1 standard tin of tomato purée
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrate)
250 ml fish stock
Half a bottle of dry white wine
Small pinch of cayenne pepper
Dried, mixed herbs (or use a mix of parsley, thyme and bay leaves) – to taste
A handful of fresh coriander
4 threads of saffron
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Coat the fish medallions lightly in flour. In a heavy-based or cast-iron saucepan, melt the butter and add the olive oil so that the butter does not burn. Place the fish medallions in the pan, add the warmed brandy, and ignite to flambé. Take the pan off the heat, place the fish in a separate dish, and put it aside to rest.
Finely dice the garlic, onion and shallots and cook gently in the flambéed saucepan until golden brown. Add the tomato purée and tomato paste, the fish stock, white wine, cayenne, and the dried herbs. Simmer gently until the sauce has reduced, thickened and concentrated in flavour, for at least 20 minutes.
Finally add the pieces of fish to the sauce in the pan and cook for only a further 5 to 7 minutes. Just before serving, add the fresh coriander, saffron, salt and pepper. Serve with rice and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Now, close your eyes, pour yourself a glass of The Anchorman (Chenin Blanc) from the Nederburg Heritage Heroes range and imagine yourself in the town of Brest on the coast of Brittany!