Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Halibut with Yellow and Orange Baby Carrots,  Cucumber,
Radishes, Turmeric, Mango Chutney, Fennel, Edible
Fowers, Chives and Love

Halibut is an exceptional white fish to prepare due to its buttery texture and thick filets.  One of my favorite aspects to cooking, besides sharing with those whom you love, is the artistic presentation.  We eat with our eyes first.  When an impressive plate is presented, one certainly hopes that the taste compliments the presentation.

When sustaining your body with nutritious fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, seeds, beans, nuts and whole grains, one exudes more focus, confidence and overall health.  Not only does your body benefit, but the arrays and spectrum of colors from the fruits and vegetables transform plates from healthy meals into works of art.  And presentation only improves with practice and experience.

One of my favorite dishes that I prepared in Paris consisted of halibut, baby carrots, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, mango chutney and lemon vinaigrette.  Simple ingredients.  Stellar presentation. 

Hotel de Crillon - Paris, France
Cooking fish is not complicated.  Really.  I remember beginning as a novice and being absolutely terrified of cooking fish… I was scared that I would fail!  However, with more and more experience, I gained confidence.  Slowly I began to walk with a little swagga in the kitchen.  Ok, not at all.  But I did cook with a sense of determination.  I knew how to execute.  And how to execute well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  If you are watching calories, then spray the inside of a pan with non-stick spray.  Squeeze lemon juice on both sides of the fish, as well as salt and a small pinch of cayenne pepper (a little amount goes a very long way).  Also dust the halibut with spice Turmeric.  Allow the fish to cook in the oven until the fish begins to “flake.”  This occurs when you can see with the naked eye, the different layers of fibers pulling apart on the fish.  The halibut is finished cooking when it is no longer translucent, but a beautiful pearl-white.  Remember, one can always remove the fish just before it is completely finished cooking, since the fish continues to cook when removed from oven.  By the time it reaches the table to be served, the temperature should be perfect.

Walnut Oil - Adds a Beautiful Underlying Nutty Flavor
When searing on the stove top, drizzle enough oil to cover the top of the sauté pan.  I prefer walnut or almond oil, as opposed to olive oil, because these oils impose a beautiful nutty richness to the halibut.  Whist olive oil is a great option, I personally believe that the EVOO is a little too overpowering for such a light fish.  Wait until a small amount of smoke begins to rise from the hot oil.  At this point, the “smoking point,” add the halibut filet (skin-side facing up).  This allows for the fish to develop a beautiful sear on the top of the filet.  Flip after about two minutes and allow to cook on the skin-side for an additional two minutes.  After searing, place the fish in the oven in order to finish the cooking and to completion (the heat in the oven penetrates the fish to cook the interior fibers.)  Again, the fish will be finished when it begins to flake and it is no longer translucent.

It’s as easy as pie.  Or… fish?

Colorful Baby Carrots
As for the color.  Any types of vegetables and fruits are appropriate.  I purchased both yellow and orange baby carrots and steamed them for the meal.  Steaming vegetables, as opposed to blanching (essentially boiling in water), retains more of the vitamins in produce.  Carrots are ready to be served when a knife can cut through the surface with ease (though not too much ease… an “al dente” crunch is perfect… otherwise, the vegetables become soggy.  When I was in Paris, my chefs would remind me, with a twinkle in their eyes, that “French men prefer their vegetables to be slightly crunchy… not mushy.”  So ladies, while they say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, also remember to prepare your veggies al dente (“to the bite”). 

Just saying.

In order to prepare the cucumber, I used a seedless cucumber and peeler.  I simply peeled long and thin “ribbons” of cucumber.  Since the “cucumber noodles” were so thin, I simply rolled them into cylinders.  Beautiful and unique ways to present a cucumber.  Betcha never thought of that now… did ya?

Using a mandolin, CAREFULY slice thin layers of radishes.  The stunning magenta ring around the translucent clear radish adds a delicate touch to the dish. 

Mango chutney?  Instead of sautéing mango in butter and sugar, I simply mixed the following ingredients together:

1 mango – Diced into small cubes
1 Tbsp. Cilantro tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. Minced Ginger
1 Tbsp. Coconut (unsweet and flaked)
1 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette:
½ c. Almond Oil
3 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Minced Shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Peel

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

Lemon Peel
Outcome?  Gorgeous, healthy food that is low in fat, yet satisfying and delicious!  In order to assemble, I simply lined my fruits, vegetables and fish up in a long line.  Finishing touches, of course, were fennel, chives, edible flowers, micro greens, turmeric and a ridiculous amount of love. 

Pure and simple.

Drizzle the dish with the lemon vinaigrette.  Saving calories?  Eliminate the vinaigrette and simply squeeze with lemon.  The citrus is a beautiful compliment to the buttery fish and tender fruits and vegetables.

Remember, the more experience that you develop in the kitchen, the easier it becomes to experiment and to develop your own creations. 

All my love from Dallas, y’all!

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