Poached Halibut with Butterballs, Florence Fennel, and Anchovy Butter

Chef Clare de Boer

Chef Clare de Boer of King NYC is a finalist for the 2018 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, presented by S. Pellegrino.


Poached Halibut with Butterballs, Florence Fennel, and Anchovy Butter

“It’s an excellent recipe to cook when you have friends over for dinner — it involves minimal prep and only 10 minutes of focus! The result is incredibly flavorful and elevated. It’s all about the fundamental skills and great ingredients.”

For the Halibut:

4 portions of Halibut
A handful of butterballs for each person
Olive oil
Maldon salt
Lemon wedge
For the fumet:
1 c dry white wine
1 head fennel
1 heart celery
1 leek
1 head garlic
1 onion
Few parsley stalks
Few thyme branches
Few bay leaves
2 Tbsp salt
Fish bones – including heads, gills and eyeballs removed, rinsed

For the anchovy butter:
1/2 pack of butter
10 salted anchovies, filleted and rinsed
1/2 lemon
Black pepper

To make the fumet, chop and sweat the vegetables with the salt until they begin to release some flavor. Then, add the fish bones. Sweat all this together for 5 to 10 minutes, add the herbs, then deglaze with the wine and top with ice.

The ice will slow down the flavor extraction process, drawing more out of the fish before making the fumet bitter/cloudy. When the fumet has come to a simmer, keep it cooking for about 20 minutes before straining. Pass through a chinois to clarify.

To make the anchovy butter, temper the butter but do not melt. Put it in a food processor and beat until it is soft and whipped. Roughly chop half of the anchovies and add to the butter. Mix this together until the butter has a silver hue and you cannot distinguish the fish. Add a squeeze of lemon and a generous amount of black pepper. Add the rest of the anchovy, pulsing the processor only a few times so that flecks of anchovy speckle the butter. Leave at room temperature.

Boil the butterballs in heavily salted water. When they are cooked, peel the skins off, taking care not to damage the potato.

Cut the fennel into delicate wedges and poach in salted water.

Temper and salt the halibut before you are ready to poach.

When you are ready to assemble the dish, bring the fumet to just below a simmer and add the halibut, skin-side down. The skin will protect the halibut from any bubbles/aggressive heat that might come from the bottom of the pan. Cook the halibut until it is à point, with some translucence remaining in the middle. Remove it from the fumet and gently peel off the skin.

Place the fish on a plate with the potatoes and fennel. Ladle a few tablespoons of the fumet over everything and top with a healthy spoonful of anchovy butter. I like to finish everything with a kiss of olive oil.

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