The prime species in France is the Dorade royale, Gilt-headed Sea Bream, but it is a Mediterranean fish with stocks diminishing at an alarming rate, or farmed with varying levels of ecological care around the Greek islands. It is usually very expensive, with a moderately sized fish weighing between 500 g and a kilo costing 20 - 35 euros. Even if I felt comfortable about eating a fish that doesn't make it on to the Marine Conservation Society's sustainable list, it's way too expensive for us.
Just before sealing in its foil parcel.Its cousin the Dorade grise (Black Sea Bream) comes from a different kettle though. Numbers fell in the 1970s - 80s through over fishing in the Atlantic, but it has bounced back now. It is netted along the French Atlantic coast, the Channel, all around the British Isles and the North Sea. Never as highly regarded as the Gilt-head, it is nonetheless a very nice fish. I guess it's the Pollock (Colin) to the Gilt-head's Cod (Cabaillaud). Anyway, when I saw some at the fish stall in the market in Preuilly on Thursday for only €7.50 / kg I was delighted and bought one for dinner costing a smidge under €4.
I asked the fishmonger to gut it (vider - literally 'to empty') and cooked it en papillote (in the oven, sealed in a foil parcel) flavoured with homemade North African style salted lemon (citron confit) and bay leaves (feuilles de laurier). I served it with potato salad and a still white 2010 Turonien Vouvray from Chateau Gaudrelle. I thought it was rather good, but Simon didn't like it, which was a shame. He found the bay too medicinal and can't be bothered with unfilleted fish.