Sunday, October 4, 2009

So Much Sorrel, So Little Time, Part 1: Pan-Seared Halibut with Sorrel Sauce

Any sorrel fans out there? I'm a big fan, but my affection for the leafy herb is still young. The first time I ever had sorrel was a scant year ago when my friend Jane made sorrel soup as her contribution to the Fare to Remember cookbook. She made the elegant yet simple soup from sorrel grown in her own garden, cultivated from seeds that had been lovingly been brought from France by another mutual friend.

The soup was a revelation. I learned that I've been missing out my entire life! Ever since, I can't get enough of it. I promptly bought a seedling, and when my herb beds were completed last Spring, the seedling had a permanent home where it has grown and grown...and grown (sorrel is know for its propensity to grow like a weed). No matter. Sorrel has a bright, verdant flavor that requires little else to spruce it up - so I've been using it in salads and oftentimes in place of spinach in certain recipes. It's divine.

This recipe came about simply because my garden was brimming with both sorrel and parsley. And after reading up about sorrel, I learned that pairing sorrel sauces with fish is very traditional in French cooking. Well ooh la la... saisissez le jour!

As for the soup that started it all... there's plenty more sorrel in my garden, just waiting for "soup weather" to arrive. Any day now... any day.

Pan-Seared Halibut with Sorrel Sauce
  • 2 pounds of fresh halibut filets, skin removed and cut into portion-sized pieces
  • 2 shallots, minced fine
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (maybe more to pan-sear the fish)
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine (I used a chardonnay - a typical "fat" Napa chard with lots of buttery/oakey flavors... not what I like to drink, but perfect for this recipe.)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (or go for broke and use creme fraiche or heavy cream)
  • 2 cups fresh sorrel leaves, rough chopped
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, rough chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Place the shallots and olive oil in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the shallots are soft. Add the sorrel and parsley; cook gently until the herbs are wilted. Add 1/2 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan; cook until reduced by 1/4. Transfer everything to a blender; blend until smooth. Return to saucepan and add the remainder of the wine; bring to a simmer and reduce again by 1/4. Add the cream and continue to simmer until the sauce naps a spoon. Do not allow to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, lightly brush the halibut with olive oil on both sides. Preheat an oven-proof skillet on the stove with a coating of olive oil in the bottom of the pan. When the pan is smoking hot, drop in the filets in a single layer and sear each side until caramel in color. Transfer to hot oven and continue to roast until done (about 10-12 minutes per inch of thickness).

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