Posts Tagged ‘how to cook fish’

Cooking Halibut with Cabbage and Shitake Mushrooms, in Parchment Paper.

Thursday, October 29th, 2009


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.  


Halibut Cooked in Parchment Paper

Halibut Cooked in Parchment Paper


 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

Sesame oil

Salt, Pepper

Few chilly flakes or Japanese pepper


Parchment Paper

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.’


Pike Baked Moscow style

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

This Central European classic dish is complements of my Mom & Dad, as they actually go fishing for pike, which is a vicious and strong fish with a torpedo-like shape and big, sharp teeth. It is fairly hard to fish, as it tends to fight as you try to get it ashore. I remember years ago my grandfather telling me that catching a pike is tricky and you gotta ‘tire’ it for hours in water before you get it out. Here in the United States it can be found in the Great Lakes and other larger lakes. However, I strongly suspect that in your case, a trip to a fishmonger or a grocery store would do.

If you can’t find pike, you can try substituting it with catfish or other flaky, low-fat, lean-meat white fish.

This dish itself embodies central European approach to making food  – simplicity of ingredients and preparation methods, including the sour-cream sauce, widely used for cooking throughout eastern and Central Europe.


4-5 pike fillets

4-5 potatoes cut into ½ inch round slices

1 large onion thinly sliced

white mushrooms –  around ½ pound

¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth

6 ounces sour cream

bay leaf

salt & pepper, nutmeg

white wine

The Prep:

1. Cut potatoes into ½ inch slices and fry in olive oil or butter for about 10 minutes until half-done.

2. Sauté onions for a few minutes until translucent in a heavy sauté pan, then add mushrooms and cook together until mushrooms turn golden brown. Set aside.

Sour Cream Sauce:

Mix ¼ cup of any stock (vegetable or chicken broth) with 6 ounces of sour cream and simmer it until it gets thicker.  Add nutmeg, bay leaf, pepper and pour a splash of dry white wine into the sauce.

The Fish:

An average-sized pike (5-6 pounds) should be cut into filleted pieces.  Add salt and pepper, then fry the fish in vegetable oil until it gets a brown gold crust.  Put the fish in the center of the baking pan (you can use ceramic or earthenware) and surround it with slightly fried potatoes cut in circular slices. Cover the fish with fried mushrooms and onions, and then drown the stuff with sour cream sauce with nutmeg.  Bake the fish in the oven for 25 minute at 375-400 decrees.