My first encounter with halibut was when I was 17. The culinary school I was attending had arranged a trip to a nearby fishing village where the freshly caught seafood was on display and up for auction.
There was the largest fish I had ever seen, looking like it weighed a ton! I had no idea what fish could be so large other than a whale. It was halibut. That one was larger than the ones usually caught.
Halibut, with its mild flavor and flaky texture, is best prepared sautéed or poached – grilling and roasting is too rough. Following is a great dish if one wants to splurge a little at the fish monger, as halibut can be costly.
SAUTEED HALIBUT ON A BED OF SPINACH AND NUTMEG
6 halibut steaks (8-10 oz each)
3 lbs fresh spinach, washed and
dried with stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lemon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with oil and 2 tbsp of butter. Season the halibut steaks with salt and pepper. Place the steaks in the pan. Sear the steaks on one side for about 5 minutes until golden brown (do not touch or shake pan).
Turn steaks over and reduce heat to medium and sear for another 4-5 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer – if there isn’t any resistance, the steaks are done.
Remove steaks from pan and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the spinach, lemon juice and remaining butter over medium – high heat, until wilted (this will only take a minute)
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Make a bed of spinach on each serving plate. Place a halibut steak on top. Serve immediately.
I remember when I first saw a fiddlehead fern. It looked like a long green bean whose one end had been rolled into a snail. Looks are sometimes deceiving and it turned out to be quite delicious. This quickly prepared recipe is a great starter for a long menu, a side dish with seafood, chicken or veal, or a light vegetarian dinner.
FIDDLEHEAD FERNS WITH PEANUTS, BUTTER, SHIITAKES AND ROAST GARLIC
2 lbs. fiddlehead ferns
1/2 stick butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean
and sliced thickly
1 cup unsalted peanuts, shelled
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a medium sized sauce pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Blanch the ferns, removing them immediately with a slotted spoon once the water begins to boil. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté the garlic until translucent, about 20 seconds (do not let the garlic brown). Stir in the mushrooms and peanuts and sauté for another minute, until the natural sugars starts to caramelize. Add the fiddlehead ferns, chicken stock, sage, parsley and salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes until dish is heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
TRICK OF THE TRADE
Most vegetables have to be blanched before they are incorporated into dishes. Once they are blanched, they need very little sautéing. If you can’t find fiddlehead ferns, substitute green beans or the French version “haricot verts.”
I’m often asked for our soufflé recipe, especially the chocolate flavored one, some might be intimidated by the challenge of making soufflés, so in that case call the restaurant and make reservation.
TWOCHEFS CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
2 cups of milk
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 stick of butter
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup bitter sweet chocolate
10 eggs separated into yolks and whites
8 6-oz ramekins, buttered & coated with sugar
Combine milk and sugar in a sauce pan and heat without reaching a boil (to melt the sugar)
Melt butter in a saucepan, add the flour, mix thoroughly (roux) and “toast” on the stove for 15 seconds until the roux releases from the bottom of the saucepan. Add the milk and mix firmly, and cook for about 15 seconds, remove from heat, wait 5 minutes and transfer mixture into an electric mixer, let the batter turn on low speed for 5 minutes, add the chocolate, and let the remaining heat melt the chocolate.
Let machine continue to stir another 5 minutes.
Add the egg yolks one by one slowly.
Transfer batter into a large mixing bowl.
In a clean electric mixing bowl beat egg whites into a stiff peak.
Scoop 1/3 of stiff whites into chocolate batter, mix with a whisk by hand.
With a spatula, gently fluff remaining of the egg whites into chocolate batter until fully mixed. With a ladle, spoon the batter into ramekins and bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 325 F.
If convection mode is available, choose convection. Bake for about 15 minutes or until soufflé has risen double in volume.
Enjoy with chocolate sauce, ice cream of your choice, Crème Anglaise, etc.
Jan Jorgensen is chef/owner of Two Chefs Restaurant, 8287 S. Dixie Hwy. Phone: 305- 663-2100; www.twochefsrestaurant.com.