French Summer Recipe from author Brian Defehr

15 August 2017
Rouget recipe by Brian Defehr

In their new book “Les Marchés Français”, author Brian Defehr and photographer Pauline Boldt, explores the boundless gifts of French open-air market culture — by season. With recipes (gluten-free, too!), stunning photography, and helpful background on the Paris markets and terminology, Defehr and Pauline remind us how much beauty comes from the simplest of traditions. Here, Defehr shares a recipe from the book that would be particularly well-suited for your summer table. Enjoy! 

The Perfect Summer Market Dish

Ask most people to conjure up the hot and dreamy days of summer and what they’re most inspired to cook, and I would bet you that an overwhelming majority – certainly of the males – would immediately go off on an elegy of their BBQ and the many grilled and smoky ribs, burger, steaks and skewered vegetables that are their go-to dinners when the kids are out of school and the sun is scorching the lawn. The backyard BBQ keeps the heat out of the kitchen, keeps the mosquitoes at bay (at least when there’s enough smoke billowing from it) and allows Dad his moment of glory, one eye on dinner and the other on the kids in the pool.

That’s all fine for the American cliché, but what about all of us who have neither a backyard nor a BBQ? I have only a Parisian balcony on which to sip my glass of rosé. To be honest, when it’s really hot and nobody’s coming for dinner, I usually shirk any cooking and opt for a big salad with fresh fruit, nuts, arugula and goat cheese, or whatever can go with ripe tomatoes. But when friends are dropping by, a salad alone won’t cut it! Something of a little more substance has to at least get a flip in the sauté pan or a hot kiss under the oven broiler.

These little red mullets are popular along the Mediterranean coast, and fit the requirement of speedy cooking time with only 4 minutes necessary under a hot broiler. The summery vegetable base they cook in can be gently simmered with the lid on, so as not to steam up your kitchen. A cutesy portion could be a starter for a summer dinner party, or a bigger portion could be the main, or a lunch dish. To replace these little rockfish while keeping the same sunset hues on the plate, try red snapper fillet cut into 4 equal strips.

RECIPE 
Rouget-barbet aux olives vertes et sa riste d’aubergines // Green-olive rubbed red mullet, warm eggplant and tomato stew

Serves 6
Ingredients: 

2 medium eggplants
1 tablespoon salt for disgorging the eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, medium-diced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves
2 large red tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 red mullets, scales removed and filleted, or two red snapper fillets cut into 12 wedges
24 green olives
1 garlic clove
Juice from half a lemon
4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Coarse sea salt for the fish

Cut the eggplant into large dice and toss with the salt in a large bowl. After 10 minutes, rinse well
with cold water and drain in a colander. This step prevents the eggplant from absorbing the oil so
readily while sautéing, and removes a little bitterness from the eggplant.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan and add the oil, onion and herbs. Cover and soften the onion for
about 7 minutes over medium heat, or until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook covered another
two minutes. Large-dice the tomates, optionally discarding the seeds if the tomatoes prove to be
watery. Add the tomato with the salt and cook over medium-high heat uncovered until all the
vegetables are soft and thickened. Add more salt if desired.

Pit the olives and puree them with the garlic, using a small food processor or mortar and pestle
Incorporate the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Turn on the broiler setting of your oven to maximum, and place a rack on the top level. Make sure
the bones have been removed from the fish, and then rub the bone side with the olive puree and

place them skin-side up in a shallow baking dish or pan. Brush the skin with a little olive oil and
sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Wait until the broiler coils are red hot and then place the fish under in
the oven. Broil for 4-5 minutes, checking to be sure the skin isn’t burning.

Serve two little fillets with about 2 rounded tablespoons of eggplant stew, using a pastry cutting form
it you want it to look pretty on the plate. Optionally serve with a few arugula or spinach greens.

Get the book

by Brian DeFehr and Pauline Boldt

This luscious cookbook was inspired by the unparalleled experience of shopping the open-air markets of Paris. Author Brian DeFehr was raised on the prairies of Canada and struck out to greener pastures in Winnipeg, Chicago, Montreal, and finally landed in Paris, where he developed an (...)

by Brian DeFehr and Pauline Boldt

This luscious cookbook was inspired by the unparalleled experience of shopping the open-air markets of Paris. Author Brian DeFehr was raised on the prairies of Canada and struck out to greener pastures in Winnipeg, Chicago, Montreal, and finally landed in Paris, where he developed an (...)

  • Brian DeFehr

    Thanks Lindsey, for sharing this recipe! Hopefully some other readers like me don’t have the easy option of just barbecuing all summer long and have use for such recipes. ☺️

  • thanks for one more marvelous recipe! Brian, even bbq can be exquisite and delicious 🙂

  • Gabby

    This looks so good! Thanks for sharing!
    -Gabby
    http://www.orcuttfamilydentistry.com