“The fish is the star of the plate”—that’s the mantra at three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin in New York City. Here, chef/owner Eric Ripert is the master of all things seafood, serving up first-rate fruits de mere via à la carte lunch and dinner menus, as well as three tasting menu options.
During a recent elevated bar crawl, chef/comrade Daniel Boulud posed a question that stops Ripert in his tracks: “What is your favorite fish?” Likening that to Sophie’s Choice or a parent asking to choose their favorite child, Ripert finally crafts an answer: halibut.
Having a particular harvest season that peaks in the summer months when the water is warmer, the mighty halibut eats various bottom-dwellers ranging from octopus to cod, resulting in a firm flesh that is both meaty and sweet.
At Le Bernardin, a poached halibut frequently graces the menu; the current dish is highlighted with a radish medley and daikon-ginger dashi. Poaching fish at home is a relatively easy affair—it’s all about knowing how to flavor the poaching liquid.
In Ripert’s dish below, halibut is gently cooked in a thickened mixture of white Vermouth and citrus juices, and then topped with a bright Dijon vinaigrette.
Poached Halibut with Fines Herb VinaigretteRecipe by Chef/Owner Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin, New York City
1 quart plus 1/4 cup water, divided
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white Vermouth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 5 tablespoons canola oil
Four 6-ounce halibut fillets
1/4 cup chopped fines herbs (a mixture of chives, parsley, tarragon and chervil)
1. Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a wide shallow pot set over high heat. Whisk the flour into 1/4 cup cold water until smooth and stir into the boiling water. Add the Vermouth, lemon juice and orange juice and boil the poaching liquid until it thickens. Season with a generous pinch of salt and reduce the temperature to low heat so that the poaching liquid is hot but not boiling, about 180°F.
2. Combine the Sherry vinegar and Dijon mustard in a mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil to emulsify the vinaigrette and just enough canola oil to balance out the acidity.
3. Generously season the halibut fillets with salt and white pepper and place them in the poaching liquid. Poach the fish until it feels just barely warm in the center when a metal skewer is inserted into the fish and left in for 5 seconds.
4. While the halibut is cooking, stir the fines herbs into the vinaigrette.
5. When the fish is cooked, remove the fillets from the poaching liquid with a slotted spatula onto a towel lined plate or tray. Then transfer the halibut fillets to large warm plates, spoon the vinaigrette over and around the fish and serve immediately.