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Butter Poached Halibut Cheeks with Baby Bok Choy


**I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to share this recipe with you today as we have been experiencing the craziest snowstorm I have ever seen in the Puget Sound area. My wonderful devoted husband and life saver Phil, trudged two miles in this nasty storm over ice and through wind to get the bok choy and those delicious halibut cheeks for our dinner. Thank you my dear, I am a lucky girl.**

On to the butter poaching. . .

Is there anything more luxurious sounding than butter . . .  poached . . .  halibut cheeks? I’ve been excited to make this recipe for The Endive Chronicles 2008 Holiday Bonanza ever since I first ate halibut cheeks last October. The delicate texture is reminiscent of a cross between a scallop and crab with all the sweetness of lobster. Eating them is a heavenly experience.

The first time I bought them I asked my fish monger how he liked them prepared. He told me there was nothing better to do than to bread and fry them. Despite his pronouncement, I sauted mine in butter instead and I am glad I did. I think the fryer would have rendered them positively flavorless.

After that first taste I decided these deserved the royal treatment to preserve and pronounce their flavor in the most luscious way I know how, by giving them a warm bath in a velvety butter sauce. This recipe is a bit of a luxurious splurge which is why I have chosen to share it with you at the holidays. What better time can there be to treat yourself to an extra special meal.

A few of you are probably a bit perplexed as to why I am sharing a recipe for halibut cheeks instead of some sort of roast, I mean it is the holidays after all. The answer is simple, in my family it is traditional to serve some type of seafood on Christmas Eve. While we usually dined on some sort of seafood risotto or bouillabaisse, this fits the bill in my kitchen. I have combined a few classic flavors from the culinary realm with two ingredients that proclaim the influence fishing and Asian cultures have had on our area and I am very well pleased with the result.

The Poaching Liquid

1/2 cup Onion, minced

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 cups Dry White Wine, at room temperature

4 cups Fish Stock (Chicken will work also), warm

2 1/2 cups + 1 TBS Butter, cut up into smallish pieces, at room temperature

1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp Sel de Mer or other Sea Salt, to taste

1 TBS Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

2-3 TBS Tarragon

Melt 1 TBS of the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until soft, not brown. Add the wine and reduce by half before adding the stock. Then, slowly add in the butter blending with an immersion blender or whisking like the dickens until it is well incorporated. Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper.

The Halibut Cheeks and Baby Bok Choy

6-8 Halibut Cheeks, rinsed well and drained

4-6 Baby Bok Choy, washed and sliced in half

Tarragon, chopped for garnish

Clementine or lemon wedges, optional

Reserve about a half of a cup of the poaching liquid for drizzling over the finished product, keep warm.

Divide the poaching liquid, into one low pan for the bok choy and one in a sauce pan for the halibut and heat to 130F. Add the bok choy and halibut to their respective pans and allow to cook until the bok choy is tender and halibut opaque, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Plate your halibut and bok choy, dressing with the reserved liquid and sprinkling with a bit of tarragon. Serve warm and if you’d like, with a wedge of clementine, lemon or even kalamansi.

7 comments to Butter Poached Halibut Cheeks with Baby Bok Choy

  • Griffin Griffin

    I am guessing that what Phil said when he got home was, er, not for a family movie!! Yes you are a lucky girl… I hope a G&T sorted him out once settled by the fireside / radiator / under duvet (and not coming out til the snow’s gone)… or by the dog!

    I always suspected that halibut were cheeky and now I know.

  • Griffin, I settled him in with a decadent cup of dark hot cocoa laced with Chambord.

    Yes, those halibut can be incredibly cheeky!

  • Leslie Leslie

    Hurray for intrepid husbands!

    These have me really intrigued, Erin. I’ve never had them but I love scallops and since you posted this I’ve been online looking for a good fishmonger. Wish me luck. :)

  • Les, I think you would really like halibut cheeks. In my opinion the texture is even better than a fillet.

  • I’m very intrigued by these halibut cheeks! I’m assuming other fish have cheeks too, though I wonder if they are all equally as tender.

  • Debbie Debbie

    Yum! This sounds wonderful.

    Nothing wrong with seafood at Christmas…. it is the perfect food for a hot Australian summers day….. though maybe not for a blizzard….lol

    Have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to reading (and seeing) what you eat on teh big day itself.

    gros bisous

  • Marvin, I guess it depends on how much they smile.

    Debbie, Thanks Debbie! Merry Christmas!

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