This dish materialised last week, from that mornings fish scraps and my stroll through the garden and greenhouse on my way back to the kitchen after a well earned coffee, cigarette and fanta break.
Now then, a good fish consommé I believe can make a versatile base for a very light, fresh and delicate while deeply flavoursome dish. The second objective when making a consommé, after it tasting delicious, is to achieve as close to a crystal clear end product as possible. For this recipe I was very pleased to be able to avoid using any egg white, agar or gelatin clarification methods, as these take time and energy. I was able to achieve a lovely clear consommé, by simply allowing gravity and time to pull the fish broth through two layers of fish cloth.
My original intention was to create a consommé of only three ingredients: fish, lemon geranium and nasturtium. However after passing and reducing this stock by about 20%, I found it tasty, but lacking a real depth of flavour. I realised at that moment, that I may have just spent two hours making a floral fish tea. To fix this, I threw in a little leek, fennel, garlic, black peppercorn and tomato, not a lot though. I let this simmer for about 40 minutes before passing again through a double layer of fish cloth. After adding the other ingredients I was very happy, and a little bit relieved with the flavour, it was lekker.
For the garnish, I took a good wander around the greenhouse and garden after dinner, looking for some inspiration from what was growing. I was looking for things that A: would hopefully accentuate the delicate halibut, as well as the floral and citrus flavours of the consommé, and B: just look damn pretty. I grabbed: some red begonia flower, which have a surprisingly tart and citrus flavour, very baby tomatoes, purple basil flowers and a green leaf from the hydroponics which also tastes of citrus(I cannot for the life of me remember its name though, I will update once I have checked with the gardener).
The addition of halibut was suggested by Neils one of the other cooks. It was vacuum sealed with lemon verbena, green garlic, lemon and olive, before cooking to 43 degrees in the oven. The result was perfectly cooked, well seasoned, white flesh which could just hold its shape when flaked and had a mild garlic, citrus aroma.
Ingredients: Serves 6
600g White fish trimmings.
1.5L God Stock (water).
6 leaves Citrus Geranium.
200g Nasturtium stem and leaves.
2inch Leek, roughly chopped.
3 Tomatoes, into 8ths.
10g Ginger, cut in half.
½ Clove of Garlic.
100g Fennel, roughly chopped.
½ Lemon, only the peel.
40g Green garlic.
50g Lemon Verbena.
80ml Olive oil.
- Add fish trimmings, lemon, geranium and nasturtium to a pot and cover with water. Simmer for one and a half hours.
- Pass liquid through 2 layers of fish cloth or towel into container.
- Reduce liquid by about 20%.
- Taste the broth to see if it needs more geranium or nasturtium and add accordingly. The geranium should be dominant and clear with the more subtle nasturtium, while being distinguishable, provides the vegetal base for the soup. If adding more geranium you can add some, then taste at 2 minute intervals until you are happy with the flavour and then remove the geranium before it overpowers. Like making tea.
- At this time also add the tomatoes,garlic, ginger, peppercorns, leek and fennel. Simmer for 45 minutes and pass once more through 2 fish cloths.
- Now season to taste with salt and set aside.
- Season fish with salt, place halibut in bag with pepper, olive oil, lemon peel, lemon verbena, green garlic and vacuum seal. Cook for 50 minutes at 43 degrees in water bath or good oven.
*If you don’t have access to vacuum machine, you can try zip-lock bags and a sink filled with water to remove air, you can google it for more info. Then, cook in the oven on its lowest setting, and use a thin long needle to check temperature of fish. The thin needle will hopefully stop major leakage during the cooking. When the centre of the fish feels warm on the bottom lip, it is done. At this point you can check with a thermometer to be sure and then remove it from oven.
- Assemble dish and serve. On this occasion it was served in small, round glasses and the consommé was poured at the table, from a nice glass teapot.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed my first blog post, your comments and questions are very welcome.