Monday, April 20, 2009

Herb-Crusted Halibut with Shiitake Mushroom Broth

Among the members of the flatfish species, the halibut is not only the largest but also one of the most-sought after items on restaurant menus. Other notable members of this species include flounder, sole and turbot. Flatfish are weird, if not extraordinary creatures. When first born, they have eyes on both sides of their head, just like any regular fish. As they mature, flatfish start swimming sideways and one eye would migrate to the other side of the head (left or right depends on the species)! Together with the Dover sole, halibuts are much prized by seafood diners for its delicate and flaky flesh. The taste is somewhat sweet, much sweeter than most white fish, like the ubiquitous haddock. Still, it is almost always the most simple preparation of halibut that would appeal to most diners.

Here, I am taking it a notch higher and pairing the halibut with herbs and mushrooms. Not only would this dish be delicious, it is also healthy and a treat for halibut aficionados. Mixing fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano with flavored breadcrumbs, I apply a generous coat of this aromatic mixture to the entire top surface of the halibut fillet. One can either remove the skin before cooking or after. Leaving the skin on while cooking would better hold the delicate flesh of this fish together but either way, the skin should be removed before serving. If you leave the skin on, use a flat spatula to scoop the fish up while leaving the skin on the cooking surface. The skin should easily slip off when the fish is cooked. Bake it in the oven at 450F but make sure not to overcook it. Halibut cook relatively fast and one can easily overcook this fish if one is not paying attention.

For the mushroom broth, I boil fresh shiitake and domestic mushrooms together with julienned carrots and scallion stalks to wring the most flavor out of all the ingredients. Finish it by adding a little salt and pepper to taste. This broth should be light and flavorful without much tinkering or seasoning.

Pretty delish if you ask me!

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