Thursday, June 3, 2010

fresh alaskan halibut with asparagus, morels, sweet corn and fingerling potatoes, two ways


Spring had sprung and the time came to do something new with halibut.  Morels, with their short season, were calling my name.  Local asparagus had reared its pointy head.  The fish would happily bed down upon Russian banana fingerlings.  Sweet yellow corn was a shoo in; the ideal counterpart to an otherwise savory compilation. 

I began by slicing the potatoes in 1/4” thick ‘coins’.  Half were tossed with Maldon sea salt and olive oil and roasted in the oven on low broil; the other half were parboiled and set aside.  
Leeks pair beautifully with halibut.  I sliced two of them in half, horizontally, up to the pale green part and then cut those into 1/4”  half moons.  I then caramelized the leeks with light olive oil in my Le Creuset, at medium heat. 

After rinsing the morels to remove unwanted grime and possible insects (par for the course), I patted them dry with paper towels, quartered them and added them to the pan with the leeks, allowing the mushrooms to cook for a few minutes.  The asparagus were cut into 1/2” pieces and added to the pan with the leeks and morels. 

After a couple of minutes, I added around 1/2 cup pinot grigio and let it cook down a bit before stirring in 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream.  Once the mixture began to simmer and thicken slightly, I removed the pan from the heat and strained the sauce, through a sieve, into a medium-sized bowl.

I poured the strained liquid into a new pan, on medium low heat.  Rather than cook the corn, I sliced the starchy sweet kernels right off the cob and into the pan, then added the parboiled potato ‘coins’ and left that mixture to warm on medium low, seasoning with salt, to taste.  The strained morel/leek/asparagus mixture went into another pan, on low heat to keep warm.

Equal parts butter and extra light olive or canola oil are ideal for searing fish, creating a perfect golden exterior, and this was the method used to cook the halibut.  I heated about 1 tablespoon of each, on medium-high, and seared small fist-sized chunks of halibut, skin off, for 2-3 minutes on each side.  When the fish is flipped too soon, it sticks.  If it resists the spatula, I wait, turning down the burner, if needed.

Once the fish was ready, I assembled the dish, starting with a base of the cream/potato/corn mixture.  I placed the seared halibut over  that and spooned the asparagus/leek/morel mixture around the fish with a mound of asparagus and morels atop the fish.  I then added a smattering of roasted potato ‘coins’ and the dish was ready to serve.  Lemon could easily be incorporated in this dish by adding a small amount of zest to the cream mixture or to finish the dish. 

This recipe is loosely based on an entree I fell in love with two summers ago at Seratto in Portland, OR. 

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