Chef Andy Nguyen of Bellingham shares his recipe for Pacific whitefish. He is the sous chef at Chuckanut Manor in Bow, does private catering, and demonstrates cooking at Gretchen's in Mount Vernon and Potluck Kitchen Studio in Anacortes. His work is showcased online at aplace4foodd.blogspot.com.
Nguyen says Pacific whitefish is "a delicate dish with strong touches in flavor that enhance the delicateness of halibut, which is a beautiful luxurious piece of fish on its own. It's always a good feeling to create dishes that float in your mind and translate them onto the plate."
He says the dish is quite easy to make, but some ingredients may not be in your pantry.
"When searing fish never add oil into the pan before its hot, this will cause the fish to stick. Always get a pan hot, and then add as much oil as you need per piece of fish. Remember, we are searing, not shallow frying. Also when searing, always make sure your protein is patted dry. Water is your enemy when searing."
"Also a handy tool I advise many cooks to own is an offset-fish spatula. These are great for many things, but most importantly, it allows you to get under the piece of fish and turn it easily," he says, adding to never use tongs to flip fish as they tear the meat.
1-1/2 pounds halibut filet, cut into six, 6-ounce portions
fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 large yellow onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 pound celeriac root, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, large dice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped fine
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
Curry roasted grapes
1 cup red grapes, washed, stems removed
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, fine julienne
1/2 fennel bulb, shaved thin
parsley leaves, picked and washed
radishes, sliced thin
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
Roasted asparagus and charred Brussels sprouts leaves
1 pound asparagus, roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil
Brussels sprouts leaves, picked and roasted
Sweat the onions and garlic until translucent, without any color, for 3 or 4 minutes.
Add peeled Yukon potatoes, celeriac root, apples and quickly sauté them.
Add the chicken stock, apple cider and fresh herbs.
Cook over a simmering heat until potatoes and celeriac are very tender, about 15-20 minutes. If at any point your liquid reduces too much, go ahead and add more chicken or vegetable stock.
Once tender, using a immersion blender, blend alternating with heavy cream and butter until the mixture is smooth. (You can use a blender if you do not have a immersion, or stick, blender).
Season the puree. (In making the puree you reduce a lot of liquid so you get the most control of seasoning towards the end of cooking.)
Strain puree liquid through a chinois or a fine sieve to remove herbs and any skins you may have left on the potatoes or celeriac.
Chill puree before serving.
Curry roasted grapes
In a saute pan, add olive oil, grapes and toss with salt, pepper and Madras curry powder and roast in the oven until roasted to the point where the skins are blistering.
Roasted asparagus and charred Brussels sprouts
Roast asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven .
Char Brussels sprouts in a hot pan with olive oil and salt and pepper until nice and charred, but not burned.
Toss apple, fennel, parsley, radish with vinegar and olive oil. Set aside to top the fish.
Season fish and get a pan nice and hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil and put the fish down, always away from you to avoid any splattering of oil. Cook on one side until nice sear has been achieved and then flip it using fish spatula. Finish in the oven.
I serve and prefer halibut at a medium temperature. You can test this by touching the fish and see how it bounces back. It should be slightly firm but bounces back slightly.
To plate this dish start with the cold puree on the bottom, then arrage the asparagus. Place the halibut on top of the asparagus, arrange curried grapes around the fish. Top the fish with the apple salad and garnish with radishes and charred brussels sprouts and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Chef Nguyen recently started "eight4eight" dinners at Potluck Kitchen. The once-a-month dinner features eight courses for eight guests. You can get more information at mckenzienewsservice.com/news/Potluck-Kitchen/Pop-Up-Dinner.htm.
Nguyen will also be featured at the Chef in the Market series at 11 a.m. June 21 at Bellingham Farmers Market.
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