Pan Fried Gurnard with a lemon sabayon and sauce vierge.

Pan Fried Gurnard with a lemon sabayon and sauce vierge.

Gurnard and Lemon Sabayon|Fine dining at home.

This pan fried gurnard with a lemon sabayon and sauce vierge was created through a glut of tomatoes and intrigue of a gurnard. Gurnards are very similar in make up to a red mullet. They are a superb tasting fish, but, they have a very annoying line of bones that runs through the centre of the fish. There are two ways around this, cook the fish whole and flake the flesh off the bone as you eat it. Alternatively you need a large one, 750g or heavier so that the bones are big enough to see and pick out. Any other fish, especially bass will work great with this dish.

Sauce Vierge is another of French Origin. For some reason in my misunderstood translations I always believed it to be similar to a salsa verde, just French not Spanish. It actually means “virgin” sauce. Still no real idea why, but, if you use extra virgin olive oil it does make the sauce so much better. There are quite a few different recipes for it but I have used the same one several times now.

For my Lemon Sabayon I had some egg yolks to use up. A sabayon is probably my favourite sauce, you can essentially flavour it with anything. All it needs is two tablespoons of liquid per egg yolk and patience. After 10 minutes you end up with the most incredible, light sauce.[purerecipe]


    Sauce Vierge

  • 6 medium, Skinned and diced. Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Cloves, Crushed Garlic
  • 3-4 Tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp total, basil, tarragon and parsley. Chopped Herbs
  • Lemon Sabayon

  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 50g Melted Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Fish

  • 1 Large per person, filleted Gurnards


  1. The sauce is best made ahead so the flavours can infuse. Dry roast the cumin seeds, add to a pestle and mortar with the garlic and a heaped teaspoon of salt. Crush to a powder. Combine with all the other ingredients, seasoning and tasting as you go along. If it's a little too sharp or bitter add a touch of honey.
  2. Follow the recipe in this link for fondant potatoes.
  3. While they are cooking, slowly begin the sabayon. It will take ten minutes to cook. Heat a couple of inches of water in a pan so that it is steaming. Place a glass bowl on top and add the egg yolks, butter and lemon juice. Whisk for about 8-10mins until the mixture thickens and triples in volume. Season. It will thicken on standing, you can add a teaspoon of water to loosen it before serving.
  4. Just as the sauce is ready, fry the gurnards on a high heat for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and flip the fish over. They will finish cooking in the residual heat.
To plate up. Place the potato fondants in the middle of a plate with the fish on top. Spoon around some buttered courgettes and the sauce vierge. Finally carefully spoon the sabayon over the fish.


  1. Looks wonderful & the way you’ve cooked the fish reminds me of pan fried trout which I adore but seldom am able to find. I need to remember that Sabayon when I need a light sauce.

  2. Very nice. What carbs do you serve with this? Beautifully presented dish.

  3. gurnard is one of my favourite fish!

  4. David, your meals are always true works of art. This meal is beautifully presented and must have been delicious.

  5. I have little patience for small bones in fish but the sauces look like something I want to try to make. Lemon and fish pair so well.

  6. I don’t mind bones in a fish – we are used to eating fresh water fish from the subcontinent that have millions of bones running through the entire flesh. With this kind of presentation, I would eat it in a flash, bones or no bones. Yumm!

  7. What would be the difference between your lemon sabayon and a classic hollandaise?

    • Dave Crichton

      Hi Tristan, a classic hollandaise is made up of butter to make up the volume. Whereas the sabayon is made up of air. By aerating the egg yolks as they cook you create a larger volume of sauce.

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