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Extra! Extra! Read halibut it!

May 27, 2009

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(*Disclaimer: My personal apologies for that title, but I live to be cheesy – Alison)

We have a wonderful recipe in The Oldways Table for halibut (page 165), based on a chance encounter with a great, noble fish caught serendipitously from a sailboat off Prince Edward Island in Alaska.

My irrepressible friend John Wagley decided to adapt it for a haddock hooked in mid-May’s cold waters off Nantucket, and to serve it at as the main course for one of his elegant, always-hilarious dinner parties.

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He made a court-bouillon, using the proper cloves instead of our improvised Alaskan juniper berries.  He decided not to poach the haddock steak whole, but to cut it into proper size for a single serving, say 2x2x3 inches.  He made a poaching liquid (water, cloves, pinches of salt and pepper, secret herbs and spices) in his perfect poaching pan bought in Paris by bringing it to a simmer for 10 minutes so the water took on the flavors of the seasonings, then eased the fish chunks gently into the court-bouillon, simmering it for about 10 minutes when the fish had cooked just enough to let a fork slide through while remaining a firm chunk.

A quick buttery sauce, whipped until frothy, a few deft twists of a pepper grinder, a sprinkle of those secret herbs and spices, a lemon wedge, lightly-parsleyed rice, well-trimmed early-season green beans, perky pansies right from the garden — and the dish was ready for the table.

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It totally wowed the diners!

– Dun

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