Posted by: njbrown | August 8, 2011

Julia’s Turban of Sole

Julia's Turban of Sole

Two years ago on August 6th, Julie and Julia was released in the movie theatres.  I think I saw it four times the first week – first with my daughter, then with my husband, and then separately with two friends.  The next week, motivated by happy memories of learning to cook using Mastering the Art of French Cooking and watching Julia’s The French Chef shows, and having seen that blogging was really simple, I began this blog.  Julie Powell had just cooked and written, so how hard could it be for me?

Initially, I thought I had the material for perhaps fifteen posts, but memories, recipes, and Food Network shows provided a stream of subjects.  My sister said I should include recipes, and eventually I did.  I think it was George, my husband, who said pictures of the food would be good, and so armed with his telephone camera, a kitchen chair in front of a window on which to set up the shot, and various pashminas for backdrops, we began to take increasingly attractive (I hope) photographs.  This is post number 128, and last week we passed the 8,000 mark for visitors.  I had written all my professional life – grant proposals, annual reports, and reports to my board of directors – but I’d never written for fun.  I have found that writing can be fun, and blogging has turned out to be a wonderful hobby for George and me during our retirement.

To celebrate the second anniversary of Julie and Julia (the movie), this post focuses on Julia’s Turban of Sole.  This was program one hundred and thirty-four of The French Chef, and at that time, I found it a really impressive dish.  As you may know from one of my very first posts, early in our marriage I served this as a special company dinner, but I made salmon mousse for the filling, and made a shrimp sauce.  When I began to think of doing it again last week, I couldn’t find the recipe on the Web.  Fortunately, I still had my hard copy of The French Chef cookbook, because that is the only place the recipe seems to exist.  In Julia Child & More Company, there is a recipe for a layered fish mousse done in a loaf pan (Fish Terrine, Straight Wharf Restaurant).  In The Way to Cook, Julia has a similar recipe to the Turban, but it is called Crown Mousse of Trout (but salmon fillets are used for the outer layer).  She also has a general fish mousse recipe that does not use a panade (as does the Turban). 

My first effort last week used sole as the fish to encase the mousse, but I used sole and shrimp for the mousse.  I used the mousse recipe from The Way to Cook.  Once baked, I found the color contrast between the sole fillets and the mousse insufficient, and the mousse wasn’t as silky as I remembered from the early 70s.  I made a small second version using salmon for the mousse, and I used the panade recipe to compare the texture of the two mousses.  George preferred the recipe that used bread crumbs rather than panade to stiffen the mousse.  I preferred the panade version.  I have yet to use Julia’s All Purpose Fish Mousse recipe (from The Way to Cook) that uses primarily heavy cream in the mousse with breadcrumbs only added if necessary.  I think no matter which recipe you use, you will have a light and very pleasant filling for the Turban.  (At this point, I would like to say that in our 39 years of marriage, one of George’s most valuable talents has been his ability to unmold almost anything.  This came in handy again with the Turban.  He is about Julia’s height, but significantly heavier, so when he does a “quick, downward jerk,” things come free!)

Turban of Sole with Salmon Mousse

This picture shows the clear color contrast that results from using a salmon mousse.

In The Way to Cook, Julia said the Crown Mousse can be served either hot or cold, and she gave a sour cream, horseradish recipe for a sauce.  My sauce used yoghurt instead of sour cream, and I added fresh chopped chives.

Julia Child’s Turban of Sole

(Fish Mousse)

Turban de Filets de Sole

(Mousse Baked in a Ring of Fish Fillets)

For a 7 to 8 cup mold serving 6 to 8 people

This is a ring mold lined with fillets of sole, then filled with a delicate fish mousse; when baked and unmolded, the fillets form a handsome crown on the serving
platter.  Sauced and decorated to suit your mood and your menu, this can be the fish course for an elaborate dinner, or the main course for a luncheon.
Although it appears complicated, this dish is relatively quick to assemble and can be made ready for the oven several hours before baking.

White-Wine Fish Stock


  • 3 to 4 cups or more of fish trimmings (heads, bones, skin of the sole fillets; or 2 cups sole, whiting, or halibut meat)
  • 1 cup dry white vermouth
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 8 to 10 parsley stems
  • ½ bay leaf
  • ½ tsp salt
  • An enamelled or stainless-steel saucepan


  1. Place all ingredients in saucepan and add cold water to cover.
  2. Bring to simmer, skim, and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
  3. Strain, then boil down rapidly until you have 1 ½ cups.
  4. Measure out ½ cup and set aside for fish mousse;
  5. Continue boiling down remainder until you have ½ cup, which will be used in final sauce.

Fish Mousse


  • The reserved ½ cup fish stock
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A heavy-bottomed enamelled or stainless-steel saucepan
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg whites (U. S. graded “large”)


  1. Bring the fish stock, water, butter and salt to the boil in saucepan.
  2. As soon as butter has melted, remove pan from heat, and pour in all the flour at once.
  3. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend, then beat over moderate heat for a minute or two with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves sides of pan and begins to film bottom of pan.
  4. Remove from heat, make a well in the center with your spoon, and beat in 1 egg;
  5. Beat vigorously to blend.
  6. Repeat with the second egg, then 1 egg white, and finally the last egg white.  This is now a panade. 
  7. Let cool or chill

Lining the Mold with Fillets


  • ¾ lb. (1 ¾ cups) skinless and boneless sole, whiting or halibut
  • A large mixing bowl
  • Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg
  • ½ to 2/3 cup chilled heavy cream


  1. Put the fish through the finest blade of your meat grinder and pack into a 2-cup measure; you should have about 1 ½ cups of puree.
  2. Place in large mixing bowl and measure out 1 ½ cups (or an equal amount) of panade.
  3. Beat vigorously together for several minutes until mixture has enough body to hold its shape in a spoon.
  4. Beat in seasonings to taste, then start beating in the cream by spoonfuls.
  5. Beat well after each addition, being sure mixture still holds its shape in a mass.

Filling the Mold


  • 1 Tb butter
  • A 7 to 8-cup ring mold
  • 8 or more skinless and boneless sole fillets
  • Salt and white pepper


  1. (Preheat oven to 375 degrees for next step.)
  2. Butter the inside of the mold.
  3. Season fish fillets lightly with salt and white pepper, and score the less presentable sides (those which were next to the skin); this keep fillets in shape during baking.
  4. Lay the fillets crosswise, scored side up, in the mold, like the spokes of a wheel.
  5. Pack the mousse mixture into the mold, filling it to about ¼ inch of the top.
  6. Fold dangling ends of fillets on top of the mousse.
  7. (If not to be baked immediately, cover with buttered waxed paper and refrigerate.)


  1. (About 1 hour; make the sauce while the mousse is in the oven.)
  2. Set mold in a pan of boiling water, pour boiling water around outside of mold to come 2/3
    the way up, and place in lower third of preheated oven.
  3. Bake for about an hour, or until mousse has swelled about ¼ inch over the top of the
  4. (If not served immediately, keep in hot water in turned-off oven; mousse will sink slightly as it cools.  Drain out accumulated liquid before unmolding.)

Sauce Supreme (For about 2 12 cups)


  • 4 Tb butter
  • A heavy-bottomed enamelled or stainless-steel saucepan
  • 5 Tb flour
  • 1 ¼ cups hot milk
  • The second ½ cup fish stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Optional for color:  1 Tb tomato paste
  • Salt, white pepper, and lemon juice
  • 4 to 8 Tb butter

(I added a splash of Vermouth for additional flavor, and approximately 1 cup of medium-size cooked shrimp.  NB)


  1. Heat butter in saucepan; blend in flour and cook slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes without browning.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool a moment, then pour in all the hot milk at once, beating vigorously with a wire ship to blend.
  3. Beat in the fish stock, half the cream, and the optional tomato paste.
  4. Boil, stirring for 1 minute.  (If made ahead, clean off sides of pan with a rubber scraper and float 2 tablespoons of cream on top of sauce to prevent a skin from forming; reheat to simmer before proceeding.)
  5. Slowly simmering sauce, thin out with more cream added by spoonfuls; sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon fairly heavily.  Add vermouth if desired.
  6. Season carefully with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  7. Remove from heat just before serving, and beat in the enrichment butter by spoonfuls.  (Do not reheat after butter has been added or sauce will thin out.)  Add cooked shrimp.


  1. Unmold mousse onto a hot, buttered serving dish; fill center with creamed shellfish or mushrooms, or buttered asparagus tips or broccoli.
  2. Spoon a bit of the sauce over the mousse and send rest to table in a hot sauce boat.
  3. A rather full-bodied white wine would go best with this dish – a Burgundy or Graves.


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  9. Looks great! I would have loved to have tried a bite as I don’t cook fish often. Thank the Lord you have your “unmolder”. 😉


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