Culinary Tour of Paris

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Blogger-turned-author Clotilde Dusoulier treks through the streets of Paris and shares her favorite food experiences in her book, Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris. She writes the popular blog, Chocolate and Zucchini.

Tarte Fine Lisette et Fenouil (Mackerel and Fennel Tarte Fine)
Adapted from a recipe by Remi Van Peteghem, chef at Le Sensing
Serves 4 as a first course

Should fresh mackerel prove difficult to find, these tartes fines can be made with fillets of fresh sardine, fresh herring, or fresh rainbow trout; in all cases, opt for small specimens that will yield thin fillets.

Flour for rolling out the pastry

  • 1 sheet pre-rolled uncooked puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions if frozen
  • 12 ozs (340 g) extra fresh Atlantic mackerel fillets, with skin (get the smallest specimens you can find, and let the vendor know the fish will be marinated, not cooked)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsps soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 fennel bulbs, about 1 pound (450 g), trimmed, cored, and finely diced
  • Fine sea salt
  • 4 dill fronds, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out or unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface.  Draw a rectangle on an index card or a piece of ordinary paper, about 2 1/2 by 5 inches (6 by 13cm), snip it out, and use it as a guide to cut four rectangles of dough with a sharp knife; keep the remaining puff pastry for another use.  Place the rectangles of dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between them. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper, spread baking weights or dried beans over the rectangles--this will prevent the dough from rising in the oven--and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

2.  As soon as you've slipped the dough in the oven, prepare the fish. Cut the fillets crosswise into rectangles, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in width. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce, and the 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Season with pepper. Add the fish to the bowl, stir gently to coat, cover, and leave in the fridge to marinate as you cook the fennel.

3.  Heat the 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for two minute, stirring regularly to keep it from browning, until softened.  Add the fennel seeds and toast for a minute, until fragrant.  Add the diced fennel, season lightly with salt, and stir to combine.  Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until cooked through but not too soft.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4.  Assemble the tarts:  place the pastry rectangles on four serving plates and top each of them with a fourth of the fennel. Sprinkle with pepper.  Drain the fish thoroughly and divide the pieces among the four tarts, lining them up in a regular pattern, skin side up, over the fennel.  Garnish each tart with a dill frond and serve immediately, with a handful of mixed greens; Remi Van Peteghem serves his with a roasted fennel foam and a condiment of slow roasted tomatoes, chopped finely with scallions and spiked with a dash of balsamic vinegar.

VARIATION:  The fish may be seared briefly before you assemble the tarts.  Set the cooked fennel aside, wipe the skillet clean, add a touch of olive oil, and cook the fish for 1 minute, skin side down, over medium high heat.

Can't get enough of French food? Club Culinaire of French Cuisine is hosting their 28th annual Picnic des Chefs at Griffith Park on Sunday, June 8. This event features regional French cooking, wine tasting, pétanque, a French DJ and live music. Tickets can be purchased online, for more information call (949) 295-0506.

28th annual Picnic des Chefs
Sunday, June 8 at 11:30am
Griffith Park
Crystal Springs Picnic Area (next to Ranger's Station)
4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Music break: I Love Paris by The Modern Touch of Marty Paich

Music break: I Would Go With You by Tommy Guerrero