Various legends are attached to the alternative name for John Dory, St. Pierre or St. Peter.
One of them, the most common, says that Saint Peter, who was one of Christ's apostles but also a fisherman (he was repeatedly represented pulling nets and his occupation is specified in the Bible), declared the fish excellent and touched it with his index finger.
In another, the same St. Peter, on the order of Christ, captured this fish and pulled a gold coin from its mouth.
And in a third, he is said to have caught this fish, grasped it between his fingers to kill it, but released it when he heard it groan (which it actually does, like the robin fish, when it is out of the water).
This mystery has never been solved, especially as, although the John Dory lives in almost all the seas of the world, it is absent from the waters around Galilee, where Christ lived with his apostles. Nevertheless, St. Peter is the patron saint of fishermen and sailors.
Like all fish, a fresh John Dory will have shiny scales, bright eyes, red gills, and a pleasant sea smell.
When purchased as fillets, the flesh should be firm and elastic.
John Dory is sold fresh and whole, in vacuum-packed fresh fillets and as frozen fillets.
John Dory is never served whole because of the size of its head. The fillets are removed before or after cooking or it is cut into chunks.
John Dory can be steamed, baked, cooked en papillote, pan-fried gently, marinated, or added to a bouillabaisse or waterzooi. It is served with potatoes, mushrooms (fresh porcini go particularly well with it), or other vegetables.
The head, fins, and bones represent almost 60% of its weight: they are used to make stock.
Whole John Dory will keep in the refrigerator or cold room for a few hours after delivery.
Vacuum-packed fresh fillets will keep in the same way until their use-by date.
Frozen fillets should be put straight in the freezer without breaking the cold chain.
Like all fish, John Dory is rich in protein and contains no carbohydrates, but is a source of minerals and B vitamins. It is a very lean fish.
There are different species:
. John Dory (Zeus faber), which lives in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Sea
. Cape Dory or Cape John Dory (Zeus capensis), fished off the southern coast of Africa
. Pacific John Dory (Zeus japonicus).
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