Inspired by the classic molded and layered French dessert known as Charlotte, this recipe for gilt-head sea bream and eggplants is prepared and presented in the same elegant style as the popular dessert fish recipes. While the Charlotte is defined by lining a round mold with sponge cake, layering it with ladyfingers and filling it with custard or mousse, adding whipped cream and further thickening the preparation with gelatin and a crust of bread crumbs, this healthy dinner recipe does the same method but using savory instead of sweet ingredients. The result is a layer of flavors that gives a pleasant contrast and curious surprise when you slice and bite into it.
Basically, it starts with a small round mold which is lined with fried eggplant slices and layered with sautéed shallots and tomatoes, alternately layered with chopped basil and depending on the depth of the mold, there can be two or three layers of these ingredients. On top of that a tier of thinly sliced sea breams are placed and finally the whole thing is covered with an eggplant slice to complete the Charlotte. You can also place a layer of sea bream in the middle in addition to the one on top for a meatier or fleshier fish cooking recipe dish.
Ingredients: 2 long eggplants, 2 gilthead fillets (dorade), 1 cups heavy cream, 1 cup fish fumet (stock), 1 cup white wine, 2 shallots, 3 ½ tablespoons butter, 6 tomatoes, 3/4 cup olive oil, 2 basil branches
Slice fish into fillets and cut diagonally into smaller bite-sized pieces. Steam zucchini flowers for five minutes. Peel tomatoes and chop into small cubes. Chop shallots finely. Brown shallots in olive oil and sauté tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Peel eggplants and cut them into round slices. Fry in hot olive oil and brown eggplants a little. Place on paper towel to absorb oil. Arrange the cooked eggplants in a small round mold and layer like rose petals. Sprinkle chopped basil inside the eggplant mold. Place some sautéed tomatoes on top and add another layer of chopped basil. Lay out two pieces of fish on top. Cover with an eggplant slice and enclose the charlotte mold. Cover with a plastic film and cook in the steam oven for 12 minutes. To make the sauce, reduce the remaining sautéed shallots and tomatoes with some white wine to make a compote sauce. Season with some salt and pepper. Place the charlotte on a plate, inverting the mold. Spread sauce around the charlotte and put some on top. Decorate with the steamed courgette flowers.
The mold is cooked in a steam oven or regular steamer for about twelve minutes. Before cooking, however, it is important to cover the eggplant mold with a plastic film to prevent the moisture from getting inside and to keep all the flavors intact.Considered to be the best tasting of all the kinds of breams, gilthead’s delicious flavor is complemented with simple common ingredients, namely eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and basil. Zucchini or courgette flowers are also steamed and used to decorate the dish. This will add a subtle flavor that goes well with the eggplant Charlotte and tomato-shallots compote sauce.