How to cook John Dory

St. Pierre Fish (John Dory) with Potato Salad
Copyright: exquisine

Cooking a John Dory or St. Pierre fish is not an issue it’s actually finding one to cook. They seem to be only available from high-end fishmongers and they are not readily available from grocers and supermarkets without ordering first. Similar fish such as brill and turbot from a cooking perspective are more easily obtained it seems.

Three John Dory on a white background
Copyright: picturepartners

The fish is one of the best because of its firm close-grained flesh which has a great flavour. It lends itself well to all forms of cooking because this flesh does not flake when poached for example. The dramatic appearance of the fish means that it when cooked and presented whole it creates an extraordinary impact. In many restaurants where enough staff is available, the fish is often filleted at the table. The easiest method of cooking John Dory is as filleted which is then pan-fried.

A good sized John Dory will weigh up to 1.8kg (4lb.). A main course of fillet will be around 240g (8oz.) so this fish needs to be about 720g (1½lb.).


  • 3-4 skinless fillets of John Dory
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 20g cold unsalted butter
  • a pinch of coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Preparation Of a Filleted John Dory:

  1. Heat some oil in a  large frying pan.
  2. Season the fillets with the salt.
  3. Place the fillets side down into the hot pan and add the knobs of cold butter.
  4. Pan-fry for one-and-a-half minutes before flipping the fish over, then continue cooking for a further one-and-a-half minutes.
  5. Drain the fish fillets on kitchen paper.
  6. Serve by placing the fillets on a bed of vegetables or sauce. Some of the sauce can be frothed and foamed using a hand-held blender which is then spooned or served over the fish. 
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