Dining In 2 minutes 14 July 2021

Recipe: Reverie's Confit Turbot

An expert level recipe for well-equipped home cooks

If you're the type who likes an elaborate and very involved weekend cooking project, chef-owner Johnny Spero of Reverie in DC has you covered with his confit turbot. The dish has a long list of ingredients, some of them specialty; to save yourself a headache, make sure you have everything in advance. Here's how to make Reverie's confit turbot.

Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake) Brown Butter Ingredients

  • 2lb (.9kg) unsalted butter
  • .5oz (15g) shaved katsuobushi (bonito flakes; you can buy at any Japanese grocery and most pan-Asian supermarkets)


  • Dice cold butter into equal size cubes and add to small sauce pot
  • Put pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure butter is melting and that milk solids aren't sticking to the bottom
  • Let cook until butter is frothy, smells like hazelnuts, and milk solids are dark brown
  • Strain over a metal container filled with the bonito and cover with plastic immediately; let steep for 1 hour and strain

Prepping Turbot
Only the filets are used for this recipe. If you have the wherewithal, you can steam, dry, and fry the skin like chicharrones, as Reverie does. 

  • From one whole turbot, remove the head, avoiding puncturing the liver and organs.
  • Wipe the area clean to make sure no blood or guts remain
  • Tip from chef Spero: "Everyone has their own way of removing the filets. We like to first make our initial cuts on both the top loin and belly before removing the filets. You’ll find once the fish becomes harder to handle when one side is clean. Start by making a long cut on both sides of the spine from the head to the tail. With the tip of your knife, follow the filet as close to the top and bottom fins as possible. This meat is my favorite part, called engawa when referring to this part in sashimi or sushi. We start the fillet from the spine working our way out towards the fin to ensure we get the engawa. Once all the filets are removed top and bottom, remove the skin."
  • Place the cleaned fish in a 10% salt brine for 15 minutes
  • Remove from wet brine and set on a wire rack to dry.

Smoked Mussel Cream Ingredients

  • 2lb (.9kg) mussels
  • .65oz (20g) lemon juice
  • 7oz (200g) creme fraiche
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3.5oz (100g) olive oil
  • 2.5oz (75g) white soy
  • .5g (.5 tsp if no scale) xanthan gum (this is not strictly necessary, but the sauce won't be as thick)


  • Bring a pot of salted water to simmer.
  • With an ice bath ready, drop the mussels in, constantly agitating to ensure they're cooking evenly
  • Remove as soon as they open and are plump and place immediately into the ice bath
  • Clean the mussels, removing the shell
  • Using either an electric smoker with the mussels in a bowl over ice or on a charcoal grill with wood chips, cold smoke the mussels for 1-2 hours. They should be pretty intense and almost browned from the smoke.
  • Combine all ingredients together and blend on high for 1 minute, then pass through a chinois.

Roasted Chicken Drippings Ingredients

  • 5lb (2.3kg) chicken wings
  • 2lb (.9kg) chicken skins
  • Grapeseed oil


  • Using a cleaver or boning knife, cut the wings at the joints.
  • Rough chop the chicken skin and combine with the broken down wings into a large brazier over medium heat with a very small amount of grapeseed oil.
  • Use a spatula to constantly move the wings and skin, allowing some color to form but not burn.
  • Let them roast in the pan until most of the fat is rendered out and golden brown.
  • Strain through a chinois.


  • Fennel pollen
  • Fried yuba
  • Maldon salt
  • Chanterelle vinegar

Instructions for Turbot

There are a few ways to cook the fish depending on equipment available.

  • Either place each filet in a vacuum bag with several large spoonfuls of the brown butter or you can place the brown butter in a large pan with enough room to submerge the filet.
  • If cooking in a circulator, set the machine to 56°​C (132.8°F) and cook for 12 minutes.
  • If cooking in a pan, make sure the butter is 56°​C (132.8°F) and cook until the fish is firm for roughly 12 minutes.
  • Gently remove from the butter without breaking the fish and ensuring the engawa remains intact.
  • Slice the filet into several pieces.
  • Place the cooked fish in the center of the bowl and glaze with the smoked mussel cream.
  • If you have an atomizer (a little spray bottle), spray the sauced fish with chanterelle vinegar and a small pinch of fennel pollen.
  • Add a small spoonful of the roasted chicken drippings over the fish and top with fried yuba (tofu skin; you can buy them at any Chinese grocery and most pan-Asian supermarkets. Either buy fried, or dry at room temp for 24h and then fry) and finish with Maldon sea salt. 

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