Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Olive Oil Poached Halibut

I was just recently in New York and had a five star dining experience at a spot called Dovetail on the Upper West Side. I had the most amazing piece of fish I think I've ever had in my life (aside from my scallops maybe). It was halibut, poached in olive oil, with tomatoes, peas, mint, and those little itty bitty mushrooms I think are so cute (shimeji or clamshell maybe?). It was heaven.
I have only ever cooked a piece of fish once in my life I think (not counting shellfish), and I have never poached anything on purpose - only when overcrowding a pan.
That said, I am quite sure that I am capable enough of following directions to poach halibut successfully in olive oil. I found a great recipe from epicurious, but I'm not that wild about the caper/lemon/parsley pairing. Meh. I found another recipe with a pistou of summer veggies which sounds much more interesting, but still. . . . I dunno. And it's so many steps! Maybe I'll go French on its ass? Or hi, what about this? Hey video recipe! Nice to see you.
So now I'm definitely thinking tomato basil - maybe with some capers as well. Oh, I have some great sundried tomatoes I need to use up, those could be fab.
Or something somewhat corn based? Corn, peas and tomatoes could be nice as well. Decisions, decisions.

I found this great recipe that I think will work perfectly for this fish, and probably tons of other stuff.
Basil Mint Oil
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt (preferably sea salt)

Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. In a saucepan of boiling water blanch herbs 5 seconds and with a slotted spoon immediately transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Drain herbs well and pat dry. In a blender purée herbs with remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour oil through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids, and discard solids. Oil may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring oil to room temperature before using.

I think I will use tomatoes, peas and corn as a succotash of sorts, and then finish the fish with the basil mint oil. Quinn will love me forever and forgive that one time when I drunkenly called him controlling.

It was by no means as life changing as the fish at Dovetail, but I think for my first try I did alright. I may have poached the fish a bit too long, I'll keep a better eye on it next time. I served it on a bed of tomato, sugar snap pea, and white corn succotash with basil mint oil. It could have been a little saucier. . . maybe next time I'll include a beurre blanc type sauce? I'm sure this way was healthier though!

Oven Poached Halibut with Succotash of Summer Vegetables
serves 3-4
1 lb halibut fillets (this was two fillets in my case) - pick the sustainable kind!
3 ears of corn
3 big handfuls of sugar snap peas - maybe a pound?
cherry tomatoes - halved if small, quartered if large
shallot - finely minced (about 2 tbsp)
2-3 cups of olive oil (don't use your priciest evoo here; the regular olive oil will do)
salt and pepper

Basil & Mint Olive Oil (see recipe above)

Preheat your oven to 250.
Pat the halibut dry and season both sides with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Place fillets into a glass baking dish and poured in enough oil to come half way up the sides of the fish (perhaps this is where my texture problem came from; maybe I need to cover the fish completely as some other recipes suggest, but that's a lot of oil).
Put on a large pot of water to boil for the corn.
Make the Basil & Mint Olive Oil.
Put the corn in the boiling water for 5 minutes or until done. (some people say 3 minutes, some say 15) Allow to cool and then cut corn kernels away from the cob.
Shell some of the peas - I shelled the big fat ones and snapped the smaller ones into 3/4" pieces.

Heat up a tbsp of oil in a large saute pan and add shallot. Add the peas and sautee for a couple of minutes til crisp tender. Add corn back into pan to heat up, add tomatoes and stir together.

Plate a large scoop of succotash onto the plate and nestle fish on top. Drizzle with basil mint oil.



Quinn said...

Were you high when you wrote this? Either way, I can't wait to sample your oil-poached fishes on Friday. Oh, how very Catholic of us - fish on Friday!

Quinn said...

wait, am I missing it? How long do you poach the fish?