Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wild Fennel Dusted Halibut with Crispy Dulse, Garbanzo Beans, Avocado and Puffed Wild Rice

When I called my friend Jerry last week to ask for local halibut, he sounded surprised.  Over the years Monterey Bay halibut has built a bad reputation as being dry and mealy.  The local halibut are much smaller than their Northern counterparts and have far less fat.  Unlike the supple ivory colored Alaskan halibut filets, the local fish is almost translucent with an aquamarine hue and firm, almost crisp texture.  When cooked, the filets quickly dry out, resulting in a mealy, flavorless fish.  No matter how carefully you cook them, or how much butter you add, the results are always disappointing.

Based on the local halibut’s tarnished reputation, there is no wonder the fisherman sounded skeptical.  In Japan, the word Hirame, is rather ubiquitous and can refer many flatfish such as Turbot, Sole and Halibut.  The local halibut, with their firmer texture and small size are actually preferred for raw preparations.  Unlike Tuna, which can actually benefit from some aging, flat fish need to be served immediately.  Since most local halibut is caught close to shore on a single day trip, they are perfect for these applications.

A lite cure using fresh fennel pollen, meyer lemon and sea salt enhances the firm texture of the filet and adds a subtle sweetness to the to the clean, briny flavor of the shaved fish.  The puffed wild rice and crispy dulse seaweed add textural contrast while the avocado contributes richness, offset by the acidity of the thin sliced meyer lemon.

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