I will say it right off the bat – the original dish is from the menu of one of my favorite hang-out spots in Carmel, CA, called Flying Fish Grill. If you live on the west coast – get your ass there NOW (make a reservation before you go – this ain’t Olive Garden) It is a spectacularly unique seafood place with an Asian twist, an interior and décor as unique as the menu and a fabulous local wine list. Flying Fish cooks this a bit differently than I do (sauce, etc) – so try their fish if you can, as it is simply outstanding! (my recipe is an interpretation of the original, so if you have an opportunity to try the real deal, go for it)
The reason I decided to play around with their recipe in the first place is because I had never cooked halibut before. For over 30 years I thought I was allergic to white fish and recently discovered I actually no longer am. So, in short, I needed to test a few things out about halibut before experimenting with my own recipes: cooking time, temperature, texture, sauce ideas and oiliness of the fish. I wanted to work off of a recipe I knew I liked and that “worked” before plunging into my own improvisations. In fact, my #1 piece of advice for entertaining guests is this: never cook something for guests you’ve never cooked before. It’s a sure way to make an ass out of yourself.
Halibut is a very firm, lean, large flake fish with practically no specific scent other than the freshness of the sea (provided you know how to buy fish!) It is in fact ideal for any sauce you can imagine, since it easily absorbs flavor. Since trying this out, I’ve experimented with many more variations of roasted or broiled halibut with pesto, preserved lemon, simple soy, ginger and chilly or just nuts and herbs.
2 lb Pacific Halibut, cut into 1/2lb filets
¼ head of cabbage
shitake mushrooms (2 per filet)
Soy sauce, dash or rice vinegar
Fresh Ginger minced
Few chilly flakes or Japanese pepper
Method: Bake / Broil
Cookware: Oven, Pizza Stone or Cookie sheet
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Sauce: Combine 3 tbsp soy sauce, a ¼ tsp of minced ginger, dash of vinegar and a dash of sesame oil & chilly flakes, season with pepper.
Wash filets, pat dry and salt generously with salt. Set aside in fridge for up to 3 hours, pull out about 30 minutes before you start cooking. First thing you gotta do is get the parchment paper ready: Take a large square of paper and cut a heart shape about 3 times larger than the fish filets. Fold the sheet in half. Take a teaspoon of sauce and smear a small amount (about the size of the filet) on one side of the folded parchment paper. Cut cabbage into 2 inch slices & slice the shitake mushrooms. Arrange cabbage in a square, mimicking the shape of the filet, then add shitakes and finally the fish. Top with a few dashes of sauce. Fold second half of the parchment paper over the cabbage, mushroom and fish stacks and roll up the edges around the heart, (starting at the bottom of the “heart”) until you have a semi-circular looking shape to the parchment. Repeat with the rest of your fish and place parchment packages on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Cook the fish for 10 minutes at 500 degrees for a perfectly cooked filet. Do not overcook; texture of the fish must be soft and creamy inside.
Serve with Asian style cole slaw, wild rice or noodles, or just a simple vegetable stir fry.
Tips & Tricks:
The most important thing about fish is avoiding overcooking: simply cook less time than you estimate. In my experience, 10-12 minutes for a 2” thick filet of halibut or salmon yields the best results.
Selecting fish: I buy my fish on farmers markets (my #1 preference) or Whole Foods (my #2 preference), unless I detour to Half Moon Bay or a real fish market. My experience with conventional supermarkets is: you just can’t trust them. Sometimes the fish is good, sometimes it’s not. If you decide to go via the Safeway route ask to smell the halibut – it should smell like ‘nothing.’