Saturday, April 5, 2008

Steamed Halibut in Borscht with Warm Chive-Horseradish Sauce

My mom makes this all the time. Its incredibly simple (and elegant and satisfying.)
Florence Fabricant wrote the recipe up in the NY Times years ago, in an article on new dishes for the Seder table.

She wrote: "Though Le Bernardin, unlike some restaurants in New York, will not be serving a special Passover menu, Eric Ripert, the chef and one of the owners, has come up with an appropriate dish: steamed halibut in borscht with warm chive-horseradish sauce.
It is a delicious and visually stunning dish that hits the correct flavor notes for the holiday menu ... One could chill the sauce and, instead of the halibut, substitute ovals of gefilte fish ..."

I generally use prepared borscht, making this a 30 minute main dish.

Steamed Halibut in Borscht with Warm Chive-Horseradish Sauce
Adapted from Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil or corn oil
1 medium onion, julienned
1 cup julienned fennel
2 tablespoons sliced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chopped savoy cabbage, plus 3 of the darker outer leaves, finely julienned
1 quart well-seasoned chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups peeled and julienned fresh beets (about 1 1/2 bunches)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared white horseradish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced chives
8 halibut steaks or fillets, each 4 to 6 ounces, or 8 portions chilled gefilte

1. Heat oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Add onions and fennel and cook
slowly about 5 minutes, until softened. Tie garlic, thyme, parsley and
chopped cabbage in a double thickness of cheesecloth and add it to
saucepan along with stock and beets. Simmer 15 minutes. Season to
taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Discard cheesecloth and
its contents. To serve the dish chilled, refrigerate beet mixture at least 4
hours or overnight.

2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add julienned
cabbage leaves, cook just until bright green, then drain. Set leaves aside,
covered, to keep warm; for a cold dish, refrigerate.

3. Mix creme fraiche, sour cream or mayonnaise with horseradish, sugar
and chives. If using mayonnaise, thin it beforehand with 2 tablespoons
water. This sauce can be gently warmed in a small saucepan or chilled to
serve cold.

4. To serve, steam halibut until fully cooked outside and just warm inside,
6 to 8 minutes. Keep warm. Reheat beet mixture, spoon into warmed
shallow soup plates, sprinkle with julienned cabbage and top with fish.
Or spoon chilled beet mixture into shallow soup plates, add cabbage,
and top with gefilte fish. Serve horseradish sauce, warm or chilled, on the

Yield: 8 servings.

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