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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seared Wild Halibut with Carrot Parsnip Puree & Sauteed Ramps


Ok, this dinner is fabulous and fancy and looks incredibly difficult to prepare. But, in actuality, I made it on a week night and it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish. Which, in my humble opinion, is not all that bad, since the finished product can be a show-stopper dish for entertaining.

The meal idea generation started with the carrots that I picked up at my farmer's market the other day. The carrots were gorgeous and dirty (yes, I like dirty vegetables, they remind me of where they came from-- the earth) and had fresh, vibrant stems attached. Carrots are high in dietary fiber, antioxidants and minerals and contain high levels of beta-carotene which metabolizes into vitamin A in the body. I snatched those up, along with a few parsnips, which are even richer in vitamins and minerals that carrots, unsure of what would become of them.

When I saw some gorgeous, and reasonably priced, wild Alaskan halibut fillets in my fish market today, the meal started take shape. I thought the fillets would be lovely over a puree of the carrots and parnsips. But I needed something to balance out the sweetness that the carrot parsnip puree would bring to the table, so I opted for some super-season wild ramps to top off the dish. Ramps, which are a scallion-like perennial, can be found at farmer's market during the spring. They taste like a cross between an onion and garlic, the bulb containing the strongest concentration of flavor.

I decided to sear the halibut fillets over high heat to carmelize the outside and get a crispy exterior, which will
texturally add a nice contrast to the smooth puree and wilted ramp leaves.

For this particular dish, I just used the leaves and stems of the ramps. I've saved the bulbs and am planning on using them in another dish in place of, or in addition to, onions or garlic.

Seared Wild Halibut with Carrot Parsnip Puree & Sauteed Ramps

For the Puree:
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter
1 Bunch Carrots, diced
3 Parsnips, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c. chicken stock, plus extra as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

squeeze of lemon juice
salt

Halibut:
3 tablespoons canola oil

2 4-6 oz. halibut fillets
salt & pepper

Ramps:
8 ramp leaves & stems
1 tablespoon butter
salt

Puree: Warm the olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and saute the carrots, parsnips and onion until just starting to become tender. Add the chicken stock, lower the heat, cover and simmer until everything is very soft, about 25 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor and add the coriander, lemon juice and salt to taste. Puree until smooth, adding more chicken stock if necessary to smooth out the texture. Transfer back to pot and keep warm.

Halibut: Heat canola oil in a stainless steel pan over high heat for a couple of minutes until oil looks glossy and is just starting to ripple. Carefully add halibut fillets into pan, making sure they are not sticking to the pan (if the pan is not hot enough, the fish will stick). Cook for 4-5 minutes until fish is carmelized, then carefully flip the fish, lower heat to medium, and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes until fish is just cooked through.

Ramps: While the fish is cooking, remove the bulb of the ramp and reserve for another use. Melt the butter in a pan and saute the ramp stems and leaves until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

To Plate: Spoon the puree on the plate, top with the seared halibut and garnish with the wilted ramp leaves.

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