A good friend of mine turned 60 the other day, and I had the pleasure of joining her and her family for dinner. As always I get directed to the kitchen to help and before I know it the meal is under my control. I love what I do as a chef and foodie so any chance I get to play with my food I am in there. Spending time with some close and dear friends made it worth every minute. Sorry did I say she turned 60, what I meant was 21!
The main events for the evening were halibut and rack of lamb. A surf and turf with class is an understatement. It was the first time I had barbeque food this year and there is something to be said about the taste of something off of a great grill.
One of the topics at the dinner table was buying good meat which I am again amazed at how many people don’t really know what they are buying. The quality of the product is always number one for me when it comes to preparing a meal. You can taste the difference when the quality is there and I always teach this in my classes. Something as simple as a tomato can have a huge burst of flavour when it is of high quality. Another plus to using good quality products is that you don’t have to mask them with alternate flavors to make them taste good. For example a catfish is blackened with spices to hide the dirt flavour the fish has or in other cases to hide the off flavour of the old fish. This should be a good note for anyone ordering something blackened at a restaurant, why are they serving it this way. Don’t be afraid to ask!
When it comes to buying something out of the water you should know some very important key things to look for. First off it shouldn’t smell fishy. A fresh piece of fish or a tasty oyster should always smell like the ocean or the water in which it was caught. I laugh when someone tells me they don’t like fish because it’s too fishy. There is a simple answer to this, and that is they are eating something that isn’t fresh.
Another thing to look for when buying fish is, you should be able to press your finger on the flesh and have it bounce back. I call this “the spring factor” and if the flesh doesn’t bounce back then you should toss it back. It should be firm and not mushy.
Something else is how slimy the fish is. There should be none and if there is then you should be looking for something else.
These are only a couple of things to look for when you are shopping for something tasty out of the water but also don’t forget that you should ask your butcher where the product is from. With today’s technology you can actually pin point the exact boat and place where your fish is caught. This can help you understand a little bit more about what you are eating.
A great place to buy fish is The Fisherman’s Market. I have been buying product from them for 10 years now and I am proud to cook what they serve. Halibut and spring salmon are in season so I recommend you check out what they have, it’s worth every penny! They know what they are talking about so don’t be shy and ask them questions.
Fiddleheads and halibut are coming into season so it just seems right to share a recipe involving these two things.
10-12 oz. Halibut (cleaned by your butcher)
150g Fiddleheads (stems trimmed, washed, blanched for 2 minutes)
100g Fresh Spinach (stems trimmed, washed)
1 medium Onion (small dice)
100g Shiitake Mushrooms (stems trimmed, brushed)
2 sprigs fresh dill (picked, rough chopped)
1 small knuckle horse radish (peeled)
Oil (Olive, grape seed, canola)
Salt and pepper
Brush the halibut with oil and season with salt
On your barbeque, grill halibut until it is about a medium. Approx. 5 minutes per side (do not over cook!)
In a hot pan sautee your onions, fiddle heads, and mushrooms until soft on medium to high heat
Toss in the dill and spinach at the last minute to ever so slightly wilt it.
Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon
Grate the horse radish over top and enjoy.
The aromas of this dish will fill your home with amazing fragrance. The fresh dill and lemon are a perfect add on to this dish. Also note to not use jarred horse radish as it is nothing like the fresh stuff. If you haven’t tried it before, I strongly urge you to and If you are having a hard time searching for some ingredients a great place to look is the Kootenay Co-op grocery store.
In closing I want to add that just because this is the recipe that I have shared with you, doesn’t mean it has to be exact. Play with whatever ingredients are in season and looking the best. This is just something that is to my taste and can be changed in many ways to suit yours. If you don’t want to use halibut then make sure that it is a firm fish like cod or salmon if you are going to grill it.
Remember cooking should be enjoyable and a form of therapy not a chore so find ways to make it fun for you.
-Chef Jamie Hertz