"We had this simple but impressive dish at Les Templiers restaurant in Collioure, where the waiter explained that it is named after Pauline Pous, the original Chef, who supposedly served it to Picasso and various other artists during the 1920s. The name literally translates as ‘fish in the oven Pauline-style'. The vegetable element of the recipe remains constant, but the fish that bakes on top of the vegetables varies with the catch of the day. The only requirement is that the fish be flat, because then it cooks more evenly and its juices run into the potatoes.
Warning: when you are filleting the baked fish, do not turn it over. Lift off the fillets from the top side of the fish, then pull the spine away from the bottom half and put the spine on another plate. The locals believe that if somebody turns a whole baked fish while serving it, somewhere in the Mediterranean a fishing boat overturns, and you don't want that on your conscience." ~ Lucio Galletto and David Dale.
A good splash of olive oil
3 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs each of fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced
A handful of pitted black olives
1 large flat fish, such as sole, flounder, halibut or turbot, cleaned and scaled
Curly endive salad, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
Splash some olive oil into a large baking dish, and put a layer of potato slices across the bottom of the dish, interspersed with the garlic cloves, bay leaves and fennel slices. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Scatter the thyme, oregano and rosemary sprigs across the potato slices, and on top of them layer the tomato slices and a layer of zucchini. Scatter the olives over the vegetables, splash on more olive oil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Now put the whole fish on top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
To serve, place the baking dish in the middle of the table. Gently lift the fish onto a large plate and fillet it, peeling back the skin from the spine and giving each guest a slice, lifting the spine away when you have served the top half of the fish. Give
everyone large spoons so they can serve themselves vegetables from the baking dish.
Serve with a curly endive salad.
Credits: Images and recipes from Coastline by Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books, RRP $59.99).
Photo Credits: Images and recipes from Coastline by Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books, RRP $59.99).