Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Halibut with Champagne Vinaigrette: Have a Little Faith

She nervously chewed on her lip. I nervously chewed mine. Despite our earlier enthusiasm for the recipe we found in the Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook, as we stared down at the suspect champagne vinaigrette we were using in the dish, our confidence began to wilt.

With Lawry's lemon pepper marinade in hand, my mom charged over to the fresh halibut we'd purchased earlier that day, determined to season the fish we were about to broil with something other than the lemon juice, salt and pepper we'd used.

"No!" I shouted with urgency. "Don't do it!" I lept across the kitchen, my hand reaching toward hers like I was a girthy football player trying to block a punt.

"But, but..." She started.

"It'll completely clash with the flavors in the vinaigrette!" I gushed, throwing my hands in the air with the passion of Mario Batali.

Our eyes danced back over to the cloudy liquid resting idly on the stove.

"Be afraid," it seemed to say. "Be very very afraid."

When I told my mom that I would be coming home to Newport Beach for part of the weekend, her thoughts immediately turned to food and what we would eat while I was in town. Inspired by my obsessive/compulsive desire to try new things so I can post about them on my blog, she decided that she was in the mood to do a little experimenting this past Saturday night. Enter: Gotham Bar & Grill Cookbook, a present from my former NYC-resident/foodie brother.

It was scarcely 11 am on Saturday morning and she was already thrusting the book in front of my face so we could plot the execution of the complicated entree she had selected. While the recipe is actually called "Pan-seared striped bass with corn custard and champagne vinaigrette," we quickly decided to ex-nay the corn custard and replace the striped bass with the milder halibut. Preliminary decisions complete, we were off to the grocery store to acquire the lengthy list of ingredients needed for the dish -- completely unconcerned at the time about the potential for failure.

Approximately 9 hours later, life did not seem so bright and sunny as the uncomfortably warm weather we had experienced that day. Something felt wrong -- and not just because it was summer in November, and we were cooking with fresh sweet corn, Roma tomatoes and other unseasonal food stuffs. My mom's head began swaying with thickness, my stomach clenched in trepidation, but as we worked in tandem, something strange began to happen.

The dish came together.

As my dad, mom and I dug into the delicate white flesh of the fish enhanced by the bright and tangy warm vinaigrette, we began to see the light. All our fears were cast aside by the unique flavor profiles and textural juxtapositions of the produce we'd carefully selected earlier that day, and the next morning, my mom was still raving about how much she enjoyed it.

Moral of the story? Have a little faith. And don't use Lawry's lemon pepper marinade.

Halibut with Champagne Vinaigrette
(adapted from the recipe in Gotham Bar & Grill Cookbook)

Serves 3.

3 Halibut fillets
Fingerling potatoes
Cippolini onions, seasoned with olive oil, pepper, salt and roasted in oven until tender
1 cup shelled edamame (original recipe calls for fava beans)
1 fresh corn ear
Swiss chard, stems discarded, washed
1 Roma tomato, diced

Champagne Vinaigrette
1/2 cup clam juice
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
1 clove finely minced garlic
1/3 cup white wine (in place of 1/4 cup olive oil)
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
Coarse salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel cippolini onions and roast whole in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender. Reserve for final assembly.

Cut fingerling potatoes into small chunks, dress with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in the same oven until crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.

2. Set broiler to 500 degrees. Season fish steaks with lemon juice, salt and pepper -- set aside until approximately twelve minutes before ready to serve. (At that time, broil for 6 minutes on each side.)

3. While the potatoes are roasting, boil and shuck corn, boil edamame for approximately 5 minutes, and prepare vinaigrette. Combine ingredients for dressing in small saucepan -- simmer over low heat.

4. When fish is almost cooked through, steam the Swiss chard and heat the tomatoes, edamame, corn, and cippolini onions with some of the vinaigrette. Reserve the rest of the sauce to spoon over the top of each plate.

5. Assembly: Place Swiss chard in the center of the plate - top with halibut steak. Surround fish with vegetables, potatoes and then dress with the extra vinaigrette.


Esi said...

I'm so glad you didn't use the marinade! Sounds wonderful. I keep meaning to pick up some halibut, but a little out of my price range at the moment. Boo hoo.

Diana H. said...

Ugh I know! Halibut is like the Honeycrisp apple of the sea! Fortunately, my parents were paying for the meal or I'd have been eating chicken or tofu with champagne vinaigrette. I don't have much faith in that!

Heather said...

yay! i'm glad you were able to resist the temptation! this sounds lovely! you've been a busy little blogger lately - all your other posts look great, too :)

Alessandra said...

I love the posts about your mom. I can totally see her, clutching the marinade and trying to hold her ground. I miss her!