Neil Perry’s John Dory with tomato and cardamom sauce

John Dory fillets with tomato cardamom sauce.
John Dory fillets with tomato cardamom sauce. Photo: William Meppem

This sauce is deep and rich in flavour and, as such, is a perfect counterpoint to fish and roast chicken.


60ml clarified butter (ghee)

4 x 160g John Dory fillets, skin on

100g baby spinach

4 tbsp yoghurt

extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, quartered

For the sauce

200ml peanut oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large knobs ginger, about 5cm each, peeled and finely diced

10 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 tbsp sea salt

1 knob fresh turmeric, about 3cm, peeled and finely chopped

6 cloves, roasted and ground

8 cardamom pods, roasted and ground

8 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped


1. To make the cardamom sauce, heat the oil until very hot in a heavy-based pot. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Lower the heat and cook over a moderate heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Cook until well caramelised (about 1 hour). Add the turmeric, cloves and cardamom, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook slowly for 20 minutes until a thickish sauce forms.

2. Place a heavy-based frying pan on the stove to cook the fish (do 2 fillets at a time). Heat 30ml clarified butter in the pan until almost smoking. Add the fish, skin side down, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the fillets over with a fish slice, and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Wipe out the pan and repeat with the 2 remaining fillets.

3. Meanwhile, steam the spinach by placing it in a skillet with ¼ cup of water on high heat. After applying a tight-fitting lid, the leaves will collapse after a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and press them gently against the sides of a colander to remove any moisture.

4. To serve, spoon 100-120ml of the tomato and cardamom sauce into the middle of each plate. Place the yoghurt on top of the sauce and the spinach on top of the yoghurt. Crown with the fish, drizzle with olive oil and place a lemon quarter on each plate. Serve immediately.