I like to say I was born with a stainless steel thumb - my culinary equivalent of the green thumb - and that's a lucky thing for me since my passion in life is food and cooking, and everything that comes a long with it.
What do I do with my life? I dream food, think food, look at food, read about food, work in the food business, travel via food, talk about food, use food as my artistic muse, teach others about food, and clearly, cook, play with and EAT food!
Food is my compass.
There is nothing better than a good filet of fresh, in season halibut - when I see a side of it at the fish market, it takes a lot in me to resist buying it (price included!). The best halibut is from Alaska - truthfully, any sea creature that lives in cold waters gets multiple gold stars from me - I think they just taste better. That AND cold water fish have more Omega-3s, so it's a win-win situation! Raw, the flesh is a translucent white that almost looks silky - when cooked, its firm, but flaky, moist and pearl white... a good piece really needs nothing more than some good sea salt, pepper, and a good quick sear!
This halibut is made with sweet and sour beets, placed on top of farro and black rice with green garlic and pea shoots (thank you Suzanne Goin). The farro and black rice recipe it utterly delicious, albeit kind of a pain in the behind to make - but after making if the first time, you'll get how to cut some corners! That recipe will be at the bottom of this post, because I'm on a roll with this halibut!
This recipe is adapted yet again from Mr. Ripert - his holiness of seafood. Find yourself some good looking, medium sized golden and red beets - you don't necessarily need them with the greens, but I like to use them for other recipes (more on that later). WARNING: cooking the beets in the following fashion will stink up your kitchen like vinegar, but it is well worth it for the end result. Be sure to brush and thoroughly clean your beets, even though you're going to take the skin off eventually. Prepare two dueling saucepans - fill each with 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sherry vinegar, 2 cups of water and 3 T of kosher salt. Plop in your beets, golden and red separate, to preserve the color, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and let these guys simmer away for about 45-60 minutes. Your house WILL smell like vinegar...at least it'll keep the bugs away. Once the beets are fork tender, drain them, and allow them to cool - you'll be manhandling these guys soon, so they need to be cool enough to hold in your hands for a bit of time. Once the beets are cool, take a paper towel and start peeling the skin off - it should be EXTREMELY easy to get off. Finally, thinly slice each beet.
On to the halibut!! Depending how many people you are cooking for, you can either have a large intact filet, or have it separated into portions - the latter leads to better presentation and less cooking time, but the decision is all yours! Sprinkle ample amounts of sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the halibut. If you're roasting the halibut, heat your oven to 400F, put some aluminum foil (for easy clean up) in a baking dish, and roast the halibut for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet. You can test for doneness by sticking a metal skewer into the thickest part, poking about halfway in, and holding the tip of the skewer to your lip - if it's warm, your fish is done. You can also tell if its done just by touching it and seeing if the fish starts to "flake" apart. If you want to put a nice sear on the halibut, heat some oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, and place your filets flesh side down. Cook until golden brown. Again, the cooking time depends on the thickness - you don't want to burn this, so once you've achieved the golden sear your looking for, you can turn the heat down lower until it's cooked through.
While the halibut is cooking make a quick emulsion out of 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 T lemon juice, 1 T ponzu (a citrus-soy kinda sauce), 1 teaspoon shallot, 1/4 c lemon oil, a pinch of sea salt and about a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Put this in a jar and shake away like you're making a martini!
On a plate, spread slices of the beets in whatever shape or situation you'd like - I made straight lines so I could put the farro and black rice in the middle.
Place the halibut on top of the rice (if you don't want to make the rice dish, you can just use the beets by themselves), and pour a few tablespoons of the emulsion over the fish. Garnish with basil chiffonade and dig in!
Again, the following recipe is not necessary, and it is time consuming, but it is absolutely delicious.
Farro and Black Rice with Green Garlic and Pea Shoots
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 c diced onion
2 chiles de arbol (dried)
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
3/4 c black rice
3/4 c white wine
1 T thyme leaves (separated from the stem)
1 1/2 c farro
1/2 cup thin diagonally sliced green garlic (garlic scapes, or scallions - whichever you can come by!)
4 ounches pea shoots (you can get these from whole foods)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Before you start with this, I recommend you either a) set up to large dueling pots to decrease the amount of time it takes to make this or b) start really early, take your time and make the recipe one step at a time.
For the Black Rice: heat a saucepan over medium, and swirl in 2 T olive oil. Saute 1/2 c of the onion, on chile, and one bay leave until translucent (a few minutes) - be sure not to caramelize or burn the onion - just sweat it! Add the black rice, coat with the olive oil and let toast for a minute or two. Pour 1/4 cup of the wine in and let it reduce by half. Once that it said and done, add 4.5 cups of water, a large pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 40 minutes until the rice is al dente, stirring on occasion so the rice doesn't stick and burn on the bottom of the pan. Once the rice is almost finished, turn the heat up and evaporate any remaining liquid, pour out onto a sheet pan and let it cool.
For the farro: Follow the same steps as above, this time utilizing the remaining onion, the thyme leaves, the bay leaf, and obviously, the farro. After reducing the wine, add in 6 cups of water and two big pinches of salt. Bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes until the farro is tender. Once it's cooked, strain the farrow and let cool on a sheet pan.
While the rice & farro are cooling, slice the remaining chile de arbol on the diagonal as thin as you can get it. Heat a large saute pan (large enough to hold your farro and black rice, all while leaving room to stir!). Toss in a couple tablespoons of oil and saute up the green garlic and chile, and dash a big pinch of salt on top. Add the farrow, a bit more salt, some fresh ground pepper and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add in the rice and cook a couple of minutes more and FINALLY add in the pea shoots, cooking about a minute or two longer. Season this to taste, and try not to eat all of it before your dinner!