That’s right folks. Against all better judgement I have gone and done another video post. You may remember that last year I did a post on trussing a chicken assaulting a chicken, and after that got sent around my work (I should have seen that coming..) I promised to myself I would never do another video post.
Well, that promise has been broken. Put it down to a new camera that takes video as well as stills.. put it down to me getting itchy feet with my blog and wanting to try out something a bit different. Put it down to stupidity if you will, but this post features not one, but TWO videos! Excuse me whilst I take the next two months off work to avoid the ridicule!
So this is a really great little dish that has some pretty sturdy origins in French cuisine. There is a classic dish called Sole Normande which can be a rather elaborate restaurant dish. It can also be broken down to a rather simple dish of onions sauteed in butter, and a fillet of sole cooked in a little cider and mussel broth in the oven. The onions are served with the sole on top, the broth around, and the mussels scattered over the bowl. Quite lovely I have to say. A clean dish, wish an incredibly light and delicate fish (sole), paired with some rich onions.
Apparently this dish should be made with Normandy cider, and who the heck am I to argue, because that stuff is just bloody fantastic. An incredibly clean, sharp and dry cider, with minute bubbles. To top it off, you can it get raw and unfiltered. Some people call it the “champagne of cider”, I just call it the best cider on earth – which is a pretty bloody hard thing for a British bloke to say.
This dish is a classic, but I figured I would change it up a bit. I happened (as one does) to have some halibut in the fridge, and I was trying to decide what to do with it. I really enjoy halibut when it has had it’s flesh side seared to crisp and then cooked through in the oven. You get a wonderful crispness, but also the great flakey, delicate flesh just falling off the fork. The rest of the dish is really pretty similar. Sliced onions are slowly cooked in butter, mussels are simply steamed open in cider, and the fish gets “braised” in the oven for a few minutes to cook through, sitting in the mussel liquor/cider broth.
I then got thinking… There are some great little techniques here that might be worth showing in a video. Cleaning mussels, cooking mussels for one. The other is something I get emailed a bit about, and that is getting a decent sear on a piece of fish.
As it turns out, making the video was kind of fun. Danika (she took the video for this one) and I got through a whole bottle of cider, had a laugh, and I cringed at how cheesy I look on video. Heck I might do it again. We shall see.. No promises this time though.
Without further ado, here are the videos. PLEASE let me know what you think.. and be honest. I have a tough skin. This is still pretty new for me. Well, really new to be honest. I ramble a lot. I could try and blag that off to the bottle of cider, but really it is just me… I ramble. I think in future videos I will change it up a bit – make some long and detailed (like this one), and others very short and snappy – 2 minutes, and the video is done.
Cleaning mussels is a complete chore. It hate it. It gets my back everytime. I try to fob the job off on guests, they don’t want to do it (especially I think because I am a picky bugger about cleaning mussels). This is my little method for it, which I find pretty quick. I use one of those scratchy dish pads to clean off the shell – I find it gets crud off quicker than those mussel brushes you can buy – and quicker is better when it comes to cleaning mussels. The only thing I can say outside of the video is to check the shell over first before you clean it – check it for cracks. Lob it out if it is cracked. Nothing worse than cleaning and debearding a mussel, only to find you have to toss it anyway.
Seared Halibut, Mussels & onions in a cider broth
3/4lb fresh halibut fillet, skin on. True or Ling cod will work here just fine, as would almost any fleshy mellow white fish. Cut into two pieces
2 large handfuls of mussels
1 onion, sliced
1 good glass of apple cider – preferably Normandy cider
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse sea salt
a pinch of fresh parsley to finish – chopped
Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the onion. Heat a saute pan over a medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is hot (starts to gently fizz) add in the onion. Cook this gently for about 20 minutes – whilst you get the rest of the dish together. Try not to let the onions brown too much – we want them soft and delicate.
Clean the mussels – pull the beard off the mussel, and scrub the shell with a scouring pad or stiff brush. Discard any mussels that are open and don’t shut when tapped or run under water. Discard any with broken shells.
Season the flesh side of the halibut with sea salt.
Get a saute pan hot oven a medium-high heat. Add in the oil and butter, and let this get hot. When the butter is melted and gently fizzing gently place each fillet of halibut into the pan, flesh side down. Let this cook for about 5 minutes, without disturbing it. Keep an eye on the temperature – if it looks like it is getting to hot, pull the pan off the heat a bit, or turn the heat down.
Whilst the halibut is cooking, get another pan hot and pour in the apple cider. Let it reduce slightly, then toss in the mussels. Cover, and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mussels are open. Remove the mussels from the broth, and keep the mussels warm.
When the fish has a decent sear on the flesh side, put it in an oven proof dish, flesh (seared) side up. Pour some of the mussel/cider broth around the fish – until it comes about half way up the fish. Cook this in the hot oven for about 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.
To plate – curl half of the onions into the center of a plate. Top with one fillet of the halibut. Pour the broth around, and place half of the mussels in the broth. Sprinkle the parsley into the broth and mussels. Repeat for a second plate. (serves 2)
This video walks you through from cooking the onions at the start to plating the final dish. We cook mussels. We pan sear halibut. We plate the final thing.