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Culture: Capturing the essence of spring

By Ismail Khwaja

Maison Bleue - Pascal Canevet
Maison Bleue - Pascal Canevet

Pascal Canevet, chef-patron of Maison Bleue, celebrates the delicate flavours of spring.

What’s not to love about spring? The season boasts young fresh flavours to cleanse our palates and awaken our tastebuds after the rich, dense flavours of winter.

With the recent week of sunshine, it’s a welcome delight to see blossom dancing in the breeze, lively lambs running free in the Suffolk fields and bright, beautiful blue sky. You really feel energised and uplifted.

Spring flavours inspire lighter, vibrant dishes which take pride of place on our new season menus. I love creating new dishes with the abundance of local produce, carefully balancing clean, delicate flavours to create delicious dishes that capture the essence of the season.

The vivacity and joyfulness of spring has inspired my recipe this month; it’s full of joie de vivre, with locally-sourced Suffolk green asparagus and a burst of fresh lemon. The asparagus perfectly partners the delicate flavour of turbot, simply poached, it captures the purity of spring.

Pair with a glass or two of crisp, aromatic Grüner Vetliner from Austria, full of lemon notes and a fresh crisp nose – an appetising mouthful on a bright sunny day.

Here’s to a mouthwatering spring and happy sun-filled days ahead!

Poached fillet of Turbot, Suffolk green asparagus & roasted lemon paste

4 fillets of turbot (150g each)

2 bunches of Suffolk green asparagus

16 lemons

100g of granulated sugar

10g of salted butter

Zests of 1 lemon

Juice of 2 lemons

100ml of olive oil

A drop of lemon syrup

Salt and black pepper


Divide the lemons into groups of four and wrap the lemons in aluminium foil. Cook for 1½ hours in a 150C oven.

Remove from foil and rest for 15 minutes. l Remove the zests of five of the most well-done lemons. Remove the pulp from the lemons, then press pulp and zests through a fine mesh chinois.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and add the sugar. Gently bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Place the mixture in a blender with the zest of one lemon and emulsify with lemon juice, olive oil, a drop of lemon syrup and a little water. The paste should be creamy.

Poach the turbot in a court bouillon (½ water, ½ white wine, carrots, leeks, onions, black peppercorn and sliced lemon) at a very low heat until the turbot reaches 55C.

Meanwhile, peel asparagus spears from one inch below the tip. Place the spears on a cutting board with tips aligned and cut away the woody part of the stems keeping each spear the same length.

Add asparagus to seasoned boiling water and poach for 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, place the asparagus into a bowl containing iced water. This will stop the cooking process.

Before serving, place 10g of butter in a saucepan over a high heat. Carefully place the asparagus in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste.

To plate

Arrange the turbot fillets in the centre of four serving plates. Place the asparagus nicely on one side and spoon lemon paste dots around. Finish with a drizzle of fine extra virgin AOC olive oil on the turbot.


TIP: Thin spears of asparagus are tender and fresher in flavour, whilst thicker spears will have been left to grow for longer and have a more pronounced flavour and texture. Look for firm, straight and smooth stalks and a rich green colour.

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