Halibut With Beer & Fennel Sauce

This is a simple dish that looks stunning and truly tastes delicious. The fennel sauce made with Goose Island IPA is so well balanced that it does not overpower the halibut. The halibut is light and aromatic, and the veggies are just a perfect way to pair it.

Ingredients

For the halibut

  • 6 – 8 oz Halibut filet
  • 1-2 oregano sprigs
  • 1-2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 Asparagus
  • 1 or 2 Purple Carrots (#sizematters)
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

For the sauce

  • 1 fennel
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup of beer (I used Goose Island IPA)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1tbsp of butter
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

I sous vide my halibut for this dish. If you have a sous vide this is the way to go! If you don’t, no worries, you can still achieve this beautiful dish. I’ll go over both techniques: the sous vide and the conventional method.

Skip to the conventional method.

The Sous Vide Method

Pre-heat your sous vide to 130ºF.

While your sous vide pre-heats lets prep the halibut. Place the halibut on a tray and season with finely ground pepper, then place it in a vacuum seal bag and add fresh oregano and thyme sprigs, 1 garlic, and 1 tbsp of butter. No salt just yet – once we have sous vide the fish we will finish it by sautéing it on a non-stick pan just to give it some color; That’s when we’ll add salt to it.

When your sous vide is ready, place the fish in and cook for 30 – 40 minutes.

Finish it off

To finish off the fish, pre-heat a no-stick pan to high heat. When the pan  is hot add 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread around.

Season the fish with salt and place carefully into the pan. Cook for 60 seconds on each side max. We only want some color here, the fish is already perfectly cooked.

Continue on to the veggies…

The conventional Method

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

Bring a non-stick pan to medium-high heat and add 1tbsp of olive oil. Add thyme and oregano sprigs and 1 garlic clove to the pan, along with the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. When you turn the fish to cook the other side add the 1 tbsp of butter and baste.

Transfer the fish to an oven safe tray and place it in the oven. Finish cooking for 8-10 minutes, then let the fish rest.

The Veggies

While the fish in the oven (or in the sous vide), we can get the vegetables ready. Let’s go ahead and blanch them

To blanch the veggies bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Chop the carrots into 2-3 inch pieces and cut-off the bottoms of the asparagus. When the water reaches a boil, add the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes, then immediately move them to an ice bath.

Once you have blanched the veggies, drizzle them with a touch of olive oil and cracked black pepper and dice the carrots into small squares.

Use the same pan that you used for the fish to toss the asparagus and carrots in for 30-60 seconds. Make sure the pan is back up to medium-high heat before you do this. This will let the carrots and asparagus absorb all that flavor in the pan. But because they are already cooked (since we blanched them) you don’t have to do it too long – A quick toss and stir will get the job done.

The Sauce

This sauce is so easy! And you can use this sauce with many other meals. I use it with duck, fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes.

To start, mix 1/2 cup of beer and 1/2 cup of chicken stock in one [easy to pour] container.

Chop 1 fennel, 1 shallot and crush one garlic clove. Don’t worry about getting things chopped finely; we are going to strain the sauce later.

Bring a pot to medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread. Add the fennel, shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3 minutes until the fennel and onions are tender. Add 1 tbsp of butter and wait for it to melt. Then add 1 tbsp of all purpose flour and whisk it in. Once the flour has mixed in with the fennel and shallots add the beer-chicken stock mix slowly.

Once you have added all the chicken stock and beer mix, bring the sauce to a boil and taste. This is the moment to tweak the flavor. Add salt as needed plus one tbsp of lemon juice. Then, bring the sauce to a simmer and let it reduce for about 20-30 minutes.

The longer the sauce reduces for, the more flavor it will get. But remember to reduce at a low temperature if you are going to do it for a long period of time (like over 1 hour). Whisking periodically helps prevent the sauce from burning.

Once the sauce has reduced to your liking and it has the consistency that you want, pass it on to a container and strain it. Let the sauce rest until ready to serve. Time to take care of the plating now…

The Plating

I plated this one with some pickled radishes and carrots, yellow beets puree, asparagus puree, micro herbs, and a little asparagus vinaigrette. Then I carefully poured the beer and fennel sauce over the fish.

Plating off center, as shown below, can be interesting. In my opinion, it takes the focus away from the plate and transfers it onto the food itself. It almost forces you to look at it. I also think that with the colors on this dish, a white plate just makes everything pop! I always think about how I am going to plate what I cook, even if I am eating alone.

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