- Prep time
- 20 minutes PT20M
- Cook time
- 6–8 minutes PT8M
- 4 servings
Add a little extra elegance to your dinner plans with this decadent recipe for poached halibut with caramelized fennel and a saffron-infused fennel cream.
Fennel Cream Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ yellow onion, small diced
- 1 head fennel, small diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup vermouth
- 2 teaspoons saffron
- 1 pint cream
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- 1 head fennel
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups white wine
- ½ yellow onion, quartered
- 2 ribs celery, rough chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 fennel frond, rough chopped, reserve one more for garnish
- 12–15 whole peppercorns
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 halibut fillets
To make the fennel cream sauce, heat a sauce pot on medium heat. Add the butter and sauté the onion, fennel and garlic until tender. Reduce heat as needed so the vegetables do not caramelize. Add the vermouth and saffron and reduce to a light syrup. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low for 5–7 minutes. Strain cream through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out all of the liquid with a ladle or the back of a spoon. Season with salt and white pepper and reserve warm.
For the caramelized fennel, heat a large low-sided saucepan on medium-high heat. Cut 1 head of fennel into 6–8 wedges. Add vegetable oil to pan and then fennel wedges. Reduce heat to medium and caramelize fennel on all sides. Remove from pan and reserve.
To prepare the halibut, add all poaching ingredients except the fish to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes and strain into a pan so the liquid is a minimum of 2 inches deep. Heat court bouillon to approximately 180°F and then add the halibut fillets. Poach for 6–8 minutes to an internal temperature of 145°F.
Served poached halibut with saffron cream, caramelized fennel and reserved fennel fronds.
Techniques used in this recipe:
- Gentle simmering in liquid.
- dice: to cut ingredients into small cubes (1/4 inch for small, 1/3 inch for medium, 3/4 inch for large).
- poach: a method in which items are cooked gently in simmering liquid.
- puree: to process food (by mashing, straining, or chopping it very fine) in order to make it a smooth paste. Also, a product produced using this technique.
- reduce: to decrease the volume of a liquid by simmering or boiling; used to provide a thicker consistency and/or concentrated flavors.
- simmer (I)
- simmer (I): to maintain the temperature of a liquid just below boiling.
- bay leaves
Sweet Bay of Laurel is native to the Mediterranean region where it grows to an evergreen tree up to 40-feet high. It is found extensively in the milder climates of North America; the leaf of the California Bay Laurel is long and tapered, bright green in color, and extremely pungent - from two to three time more pungent than that of the European variety.
The uses of Bay are many and varied. Eggs, meats, game, soups, casseroles, and sauce benefit from the judicious use of this herb; use it sparingly, however, for it is dominant by nature.
Obtain from the dried stigmas of a fall-flowering Crocus believed to be native to Spain, where most, and the best, of the world's Saffron supply continues to be produced. The plants delicate, light purple blossom bears the scarlet-yellow stigmas which must be picked by hand. Approximately 225,000 stigmas are required to make 1-pound of saffron.
Saffron adds a distinctive "old world" flavor to foods. It is found in Paella, a Spanish rice dish made with a variety of meats and shellfish, and in the French seafood stew, Bouillabase.
Use saffron in yogurt-based dips for vegetables and as a unusual but tasty addition to rice pudding. It takes great with lamb and most seafood and shellfish.