Seared Halibut With Spring Vegetable Ragoût

I love sea bass, but it has been so overfished that it's approaching endangered status, so I'm using halibut here instead. You can also use black cod, if it's available where you live. The ragout and fish are so flavorful and delicious, I don't think you need to go to the trouble of making a separate sauce.
1/2 pound washed and drained fiddlehead ferns (see below)
1/2 pound baby pattypan squash, stem ends trimmed
1/4 pound ramps, washed and trimmed and green tops roughly chopped
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Salt and pepper

Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice; set aside. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Boil the fiddleheads for 4 minutes or until they are very bright green and crisp-tender, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Boil the squash for 3 minutes or until are crisp-tender, transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then transfer them to paper towels to drain. Boil the peas and ramp bottoms for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are just tender, and drain them.

In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the garlic and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the fiddleheads and squash, and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer; cover and simmer for 1 minute. Add the peas, ramp tops and bottoms, and mint. Cover and simmer for 1 minute, then stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, until the butter is just melted. Season the ragout with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat another large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough that a few drops of water sizzle and evaporate very quickly (like less than 5 seconds), add the vegetable oil and tilt the pan to even coat the surface. Season the skin side of the fish (the rounded side) and place the fillets skin-side down in the pan. Season the other side. Cook until lightly golden on the skin side, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip them and cook on the other side until cooked through but still translucent in the center, about 3 minutes more.

To make a fancy presentation, place a pile of the ragout at about 10 o'clock on each of 4 plates. Place the fish on a diagonal (with the bottom side facing about 5 o'clock), with one corner slightly resting on top of the ragout. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

To clean fiddleheads:
Soak the fiddleheads in a sink half full of cold water, lifting them out to leave the water behind and changing the water several times to remove any grit or casing particles. Drain thoroughly.

No comments: