John Dory with mussels in cumin and apple sauce

John Dory with mussels in cumin and apple sauce

British Seafood
David Loftus

Very fresh John Dory retains its lovely, moist texture and amazing pearly white flesh if you grill it, providing you keep a close eye – overcook it and the texture will be ruined. Mussels and cumin pair well and apple lends a touch of sweetness, creating a unique fresh-tasting sauce that works brilliantly with this fish.


Quantity Ingredient
2 john dory, filleted and skinned
or 4 smaller fish, filleted and skinned
1kg live mussels, cleaned, (see note)
100ml dry white wine
olive oil, to drizzle
12 tenderstem broccoli stems
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cumin and apple sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced, (white part only)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
500ml Shellfish stock
500ml Roast fish stock
4 ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
50g unsalted butter


  1. First make the sauce. Heat a large saucepan and add the olive oil. When hot, add the onions, leeks, garlic and apples. Sweat for 2 minutes, then add the cumin and cook gently for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are starting to colour, but don’t allow them to darken. Pour in both stocks, add the tomatoes and butter and bring to a steady simmer. Let bubble until the liquid has reduced down to a quarter of its original volume. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blitz for 4 minutes, to emulsify the sauce and thicken it slightly. Set aside until ready to serve. (The sauce can be cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, if preparing ahead.)
  2. To cook the mussels, place a large saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) over a medium heat. When hot, add the mussels and wine and immediately clamp the lid on. Cook for 2 minutes to steam the mussels open. Remove the lid and check if the mussels are open; if not cook them for a further ½–1 minute. Drain the mussels in a colander over a bowl to catch the liquor; discard any that have not opened. Pick the mussels from their shells and add them to the sauce.
  3. To cook the fish, heat the grill to medium and lightly oil the grill tray. Trim the John Dory fillets as necessary and lay them on the grill tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Place the fish under the grill for 6 minutes until just cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until just tender. Gently reheat the mussel sauce, bringing it to a low simmer.
  5. Divide the sauce between warmed plates. Carefully lift the fish from the grill tray and place on the sauce. Drain the broccoli and arrange around the fish. Serve at once.


  • Before cooking, check the mussels are in good condition and closed. Tap any open mussels sharply – they will close up if they’re alive, otherwise discard them. Similarly throw away any mussels that have cracked or damaged shells. Pull away the hairy ‘beard’, attached to one end of the mussel. Farmed mussels should only need a quick rinse to clean them without washing away flavour, but if mussels are sandy or dirty you’ll need to give them a more thorough wash or a quick soak in cold water.
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