(*Disclaimer: My personal apologies for that title, but I live to be cheesy — Alison)
We have a wonderful recipe in The Oldways Table for halibut (page 165), based on a chance encounter with a great, noble ﬁsh caught serendipitously from a sailboat oﬀ Prince Edward Island in Alaska.
My irrepressible friend John Wagley decided to adapt it for a haddock hooked in mid-May’s cold waters oﬀ Nantucket, and to serve it at as the main course for one of his elegant, always-hilarious dinner parties.
He made a court-bouillon, using the proper cloves instead of our improvised Alaskan juniper berries. He decided not to poach the haddock steak whole, but to cut it into proper size for a single serving, say 2x2x3 inches. He made a poaching liquid (water, cloves, pinches of salt and pepper, secret herbs and spices) in his perfect poaching pan bought in Paris by bringing it to a simmer for 10 minutes so the water took on the ﬂavors of the seasonings, then eased the ﬁsh chunks gently into the court-bouillon, simmering it for about 10 minutes when the ﬁsh had cooked just enough to let a fork slide through while remaining a ﬁrm chunk.
A quick buttery sauce, whipped until frothy, a few deft twists of a pepper grinder, a sprinkle of those secret herbs and spices, a lemon wedge, lightly-parsleyed rice, well-trimmed early-season green beans, perky pansies right from the garden — and the dish was ready for the table.
It totally wowed the diners!