Bhetki Meunire Recipe: How To Make This Classic Continental Dish From Kolkata
There are some things my dad swears by in Kolkata, and one of them is the Bhetki Meunire in the old Sky Room, which at one point was one of our favorite places to go. be in Park Street, Kolkata. When Sky Room closed in December 1993, her fond memories of ordering the dish from the smiling waiter, who always asked me what class I was in, remain gloriously intact. He is not the only one to be a fan of this dish. Satyajit Ray frequented the restaurants on Park Street and ordered a lot of Bhetki Meunire. As his son, Sandip Ray recalled, “my dad would love to order the meunire fish, and it was one of the things he loved to eat.” The origin of this recipe is decidedly French, but there are some interesting treats that developed when the recipe reached India.
The origins of Meunire:
La Meunire, by name, is quite French. However, it is both a cooking method and a sauce. The cooking method would be mainly to dredge the protein, preferably a flaky fish like sole, in flour and then fry it in a pan, after which it would be served with a simple brown butter sauce, with parsley and with lemon. The term “meunire” refers to “la meunière” and the simplicity of the recipe belies its flavor, which greatly benefits fresh fish. Dover Sole is preferred for this recipe, and it is, allegedly, the first meal Julia Child has ever had in France, which made her fall in love with French cuisine because, “The flesh of the sole was delicate. , with a light but distinct taste. of the ocean that went wonderfully with brown butter … It was a piece of perfection … It was the most exciting meal of my life “, she will write later in My life in France.
Ideally, the recipe consisted of a few steps. First, the fish should be fried, then it is put in a sauce consisting of butter, lemon and parsley. “Back in Cannes, my mother uses this technique to cook fish, but she doesn’t add lemon juice because we don’t like adding lemon to our finished dish,” Cédric remembers. Jossé, who runs L’Instant Café. and a la Meunire as part of their new menu.
The popularity of Meunire in Calcutta:
Although Meunire was popular in Park Street restaurants, it only really became a hit when it started being served by caterers at weddings and other occasions across town in the 1980s. Bengali caterers are said to use this recipe as a variation on the ubiquitous fish fry, which was a staple of Bengali weddings at the time. Often it was called the “munia”, with the recipe varying from fried fish paste topped with lemon slices and butter to two slices of fish sandwiching a stuffing then a fried dough, or fried fish garnished with almonds, a tip of almond hat, which can be considered its contemporary. Le Meunire also made a comeback in the town’s menu when some cafes and restaurants serving old-school continental cuisine began to adopt this recipe. “We love to recreate old school nostalgia in our cafe, and we really wanted to have Meunire on our menu because it screams old continental Calcutta,” said Sanjoy Roy Chowdhury of Tribe Café. “Most of our customers love the thick, flaky fish with herb rice, and we serve it the old-fashioned way. It’s also very delicate, because it has so few ingredients. ingredients must be of the highest quality. “
How to make meunire fish:
Fish is a very important part of the recipe, so it’s a good idea to choose a firm, flaky fish like Bhetki (Barramundi), which when cooked remains buttered. Trout and sole are also very good for this recipe. It is also advisable to use good quality butter and not to excessively flour the fish as this will take away the flavor. It’s also a good idea to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh parsley, as they make a difference.
For the fish:
- 4 thick fillets of Bhetki (about 100-120 g each), washed and patted dry with a paper towel
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Half a cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Half a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- A pinch of salt
- Lemon wedges and herb rice to serve with
Apply very little lemon juice to the fish fillets, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the fish rest for 5 minutes. Spread the flour on a plate. Coat the fish with this flour and set aside. Heat the butter and oil over medium heat and wait for the butter to stop foaming. At this point, add the fish fillets, two at a time, and fry them until golden brown on each side, drizzling often with the butter oil in the pan. Once the fish fillets are golden on all sides, remove them and let them rest on a baking sheet covered with a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, add the butter and let it melt over low heat. Once it has completely melted, remove from the heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients and whisk well for 20-25 seconds. Pour over the fish and serve with herb rice and lemon wedges.