Halibut Steamed in Sea Kelp with Charred Leek Cream and Heirloom Tomatoes

This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Kevin O'Conner, live fire cooking enthusiast and author of Chasing Harvest. It's meant to be cooked in the great outdoors, over live fire, but cooking this at home will also work well!

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 30 min Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds Halibut, cut into 4 portions
  • 4, 8-10" inch sheets of dried kombu or gathered strips of fresh bull kelp, giant kelp, and/or kombu
  • Butcher’s twine, soaked in water 
  • 1 yukon gold potato, chopped 
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream 
  • 1 bay leaf (optional) 
  • 4 medium-sized whole leeks, chopped
  • 1 lemon 
  • 12-16 sprigs of thyme 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 
  • 3-4 heirloom tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon light miso 
  • Cracked pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Fire Pit
  • Grill Grate or circular grate
  • Cast iron skillet

RECIPE PREPARATION

  1. Start (at least) a two-foot fire in the Fire Pit with a hardwood like oak/almond or ignite a heaping chimney’s worth of high-quality charcoal. While the fire is burning down to a coal bed, set up your kitchen and get to prepping. Lay the leeks next to the fire to get things started.
  2. Dice the potato into small cubes and put them in a saucepan with the pint of cream. Place the cream over or next to the fire to bring up to a boil then move the saucepan to a spot that allows it to simmer. Season the pot with a few cracks of black pepper, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally while preparing the halibut.
  3. Lay four squares of hydrated kelp down on a large tray or cutting board and place each portion of halibut in the center. Dress each halibut portion with a drizzle of EVOO before seasoning with a liberal pinch of salt. Adorn each portion with a few sprigs of thyme and a lemon slice. Wrap the halibut with the kelp and tie it off with  a few pieces of twine. It doesn’t have to be pretty, as long as the halibut isn’t exposed. Be sure to not use so much seaweed that you can’t feel the fish for doneness. Place the halibut parcels on the grill grate above the coals.
  4. Continue turning the leeks and allow the outside layers to char significantly before bringing them up to the elevated grill grate above the coals to continue cooking until soft. Once the leeks are charred and softened, transfer them to a cutting board. Cut away the tops, trim the bottom, and slice out the cooked, un-charred, inside layers. Roughly chop the inside layers of the leeks before adding them to the saucepan with the potatoes and continue simmering.
  5. Turn the halibut parcels and check the underside to ensure they’re all cooking at an even pace. Rearrange the parcels as needed and flip once the kelp starts to darken (10-15 minutes). Repeat this process on the other side and continue cooking until the fish feels firm when squeezed gently through the kelp. You’ll see liquid bubbling from the seams. Remove the parcels from above the coals and allow them to rest while you prepare the tomatoes and herbs.
  6. Slice the heirloom tomatoes into bite size pieces before giving them a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkling of salt. Roughly chop the dill and set aside in preparation for the halibut.
  7. Check the potato and leek cream; it should be thickened, a few shades darker, and have a more homogenous consistency. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Cut the twine and gently pull away the seaweed to expose the cooked halibut. Dress the halibut with an additional drizzle of EVOO, a squeeze of lemon, and a scattering of the fresh chopped dill. Spoon the leek cream into four bowls before placing the dressed halibut on top. Finish the bowls with a scattering of tomatoes and enjoy immediately.

ABOUT

Chef Kevin O’Conner was raised in the Sierra Foothills, Kevin developed a love for gathering, hunting, foraging, and cooking at a young age. Starting in fine dining at the age of fourteen, the first twelve years of his career were spent in some of California’s best restaurants, while the past five years have been spent traveling the world with knives in tow. No matter the venture, Kevin strives to find a true connection to the food he cooks and the places it comes from. An avid outdoorsman and adventurist, he prefers an open fire to a traditional kitchen, cooking from the heart with a deep respect for seasonal ingredients. Follow his culinary adventures on Instagram @chefkevinoconnor.

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