Poached Halibut, Sweet-and-Sour Golden and Red Beets, and Citrus-Coriander Oil Emulsion

4 servings

I picked up this poaching technique from my friend Laurent Gras, who learned it from a Chinese chef. Cooking a delicate fish like halibut in a thick velouté lets the fish retain its moistness and gives it a wonderful glossiness.


  • For the Beets:
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sherry vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 medium golden beets
  • 2 medium red beets
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Infused Citrus-Coriander Oil (see below)
  • For the Citrus-Coriander Oil Emulsion
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Ponzu (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup Infused Citrus-Coriander Oil (see below)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • Espelette pepper powder
  • For the Poaching Liquid:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vermouth
  • Fine sea salt
  • For the Halibut:
  • 4 halibut fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • For the Garnish:
  • 1 tablespoon basil julienne
  • 1 tablespoon opal basil julienne
  • For the Infused Citrus-Coriander Oil:
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 3 basil sprigs
  • 2 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • For the Ponzu: (Makes about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • Minced zest and juice of 1/2 orange
  • Minced zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Minced zest and juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1/3 cup yuzu juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups water


For the Beets: Divide the vinegars, water and kosher salt between two medium saucepans. Add the golden beets to one pan and the red beets to the other. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and cook the beets until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain the beets and let cool.

Peel the beets and cut them into 1/8 inch-thick slices. You need 16 yellow beet slices and 12 red beet slices. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cutter, trim each slice into a neat circle. Lay the beet circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (The beets can be cooked and sliced ahead of time and kept refrigerated until ready to use.)

For the Citrus-Coriander Oil Emulsion: Combine the orange juice, lemon juice, ponzu and shallot in a small stainless steel saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil in a steady stream. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and Espelette pepper. Keep warm.

For the Poaching Liquid: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it is a golden straw color and has a slightly nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, to prevent lumps when you add the roux to the hot liquid.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and vermouth and bring back to a boil. Whisking constantly, add half of the roux. Add the rest of the roux and bring to a boil (the mixture will look like a thick soup). Season with salt and simmer until all the raw flour taste has cooked out, about 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat and let the poaching liquid cool to 180 degrees F, just under a simmer. Simmer for a few more minutes to cook the acidity out, whisking the liquid occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Halibut: Transfer the liquid to a shallow pan. Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Place them in the poaching liquid and poach for 5 to 6 minutes, turning once, until a metal skewer can be easily inserted into the fish and, if left in for 5 seconds, feels just warm when touched to your lip.

While the fish is poaching, season the beets with salt and white pepper and drizzle the citrus-coriander oil over them. Heat the beets in the oven until they are warm, about 2 minutes.

To serve, remove the halibut from the poaching liquid and drain on a towel. Arrange 4 golden beet slices and 3 red beet slices in a circle in the center of each plate, alternating red and yellow slices. Place the halibut on top of the beets and garnish with the basil julienne. Spoon the citrus emulsion over and around the halibut, and serve immediately.

For the Infused Citrus-Coriander Oil: Crush the orange zest, lemon zest, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, basil, cilantro, and tomato together in a bowl. Add the 3 oils and season well with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 10 days.

To use, gently warm the oil and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the aromatics.

For the Ponzu:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer to a jar or bottle, seal tightly, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Artisan Publishing. All rights reserved.

RecID 11147

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