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Poaching Halibut - Need some advice.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello there!

I am making a halibut steak in a red wine sauce.

I am using a bottle of south Australian shiraz, thyme, basil, garlic, olive oil. I bring to a light boil, then I put in the 4 halibut steaks to poach and absorb that flavor.

Then, I make the sauce in another pan, shallots, etc....

I poached the halibut for about 4-5 min, set aside. I strained the poaching liquid into the sauce and reduced.

I served the halibut on a creamy garlic mashed potato, and drizzled the sauce on top.

It was awesome - but the halibut was DRY!!!!!

Tips on how to make the halibut moist? Did I simply overcook?

Thanks,

Dallas
post #2 of 11
Depending on the size of the halibut pieces, I doubt you overcooked it. How much shiraz did you use? Wine is an astringent and if too much was used it might have drawn the moisture from the fish. Cod can be a rather dry fish but halibut is usually not as dry.
post #3 of 11
Was it fresh Halibut or frozen? Frozen would be dry. Also alcohol content of wine also tends to dry. Also steaks or filets could be cut to thin, poached fish is normally a little thicker then grilled or broiled. I also believe that a red wine is to overpowering for the delicate flavor of halibut.
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ok, thanks. I appreciate the responses.

The fish was thawed but was previously flash frozen. (likely some of the problem). Second, I think I put the cuts into the solution too early, not allowing the alcohol to evaporate out, which might have caused some drying out as well.

I agree that a Shiraz has a pretty potent flavor, and I also agree that it might be too strong for the halibut.

I had tried this with a sirloin cut of beef a while back and I nailed it (realizing red wine would go better with beef). I thought the sauce was so delicious that something as neat and mouthwatering as halibut would have been an awesome companion. Plus, a white fish poached in a red wine is visually pleasing when my friends cut into the meat. I just wish it was moist and not a hunk of leather!!!

Thanks so much - this is really neat.

Dallas
post #5 of 11
Try poaching it in pomegranate juice.
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post #6 of 11
If it was actually leathery, I would say there was something wrong with the fish to begin with. Being in the midwest and not near fish markets, I work with frozen fish all the time with good results. What you have to be careful about when buying frozen fish is to make sure it is "once frozen". Once frozen is processed either on the boat or on shore depending on the distance from the catch area, and then frozen. Twice frozen is frozen whole on the boat and then shipped somewhere (usually China) where it's thawed, processed and frozen again. For instance cod used to be processed at sea and then distributed. Today it's nearly all shipped to China so it's nearly impossible to find once frozen cod from the Atlantic. You might be able to find some pacific cod processed in Alaska. Canada is even sending their walleye over there, so you will see Canadian walleye bearing a product of China label. Fish loses a lot of moisture every time it's frozen. It also gets more opaque. You can feel the difference once its thawed. Once frozen will have a smooth almost slippery surface. If you rub twice frozen between your thumb and fingers, it will leave granules that feel somewhat like sand behind. Do a little research on what fish come from what parts of the world and then look for a country of origin label that is near the area. If you see a fish from South America with a product of China label, you don;t want it. I run the kitchen in a seafood restaurant and although we mainly have a midwest clientele, we also have people come from all over the country and world. Even people from Cape Cod are happy with our product, so don't be scared off frozen fish. It can actually be superior to fresh in our area because of time factors. The places that fly in fresh are serving fish that is at least 3 days old. Rather thaw mine out, thanks.
post #7 of 11
If you notice the gentleman who asked the question is a home cook by his own definition. I would then assume he purchased this fish retail in a supermarket. The frozen for sale in a supermarket and what we buy wholesale is 2 different things. Most frozen fish in supermarket is pure garbage . After thawing you can squeeze it and water comes out like a sponge. I believe they buy and sell the cheapest junk that they can buy. I am talking frozen only. I would only use it for chum. Same thing with their shrimp, dont know what they do with it but I would not use ,most is freezer burned or if already cooked like rubber.
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post #8 of 11
I realize the person asking the question is a home cook, which is why I went into so much detail. A pro would already know what I know. I can't speak for other areas of the country, but where I live our local groceries purchase seafood from the same sources I do.
post #9 of 11
Not in Florida or New York.
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post #10 of 11
The biggest problem with the texture of your poached fish was that you didn't poach it, you boiled it. Poaching is not boiling, it's simmering. And while it's always important not to overcook fish, poaching is unhurried. Also, undiluted wine is WAY too strong for a poaching liquid.

Here's a basic method for halibut for two:

Make a poaching liquid by mixing 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of clam juice and 1/2 cup of (dry white) wine or dry vermouth. Taste the liquid and add enough salt to make it taste seasoned -- between 1/2 and 1 tsp of table salt.

Rinse the fish thoroughly with cold water. Set the fish in a cold pan just large enough to hold it snugly. Pour enough of the poaching liquid into the pan to just barely cover the fish. If you didn't mix enough, just add a little more water and a splash of wine.Add four whole peppercorns, and a bay leaf. If you like you may add a few sprigs of fresh parsley and one of fresh thyme as well.

Cover the pan, turn the flame on to medium, and bring the liquid to a simmer (about 180* -- NOT a boil). Reduce the heat to hold the simmer, and simmer until done; with single servings of halibut, probably seven or eight minutes more. Exact timing depends on a number of factors, mostly the thickness of the fish.

Touch test for done with a wooden spoon. The indicators of doneness are appearance and touch. First the fish will become opaque and firm up. After which it will start to relax and become fluffy (perfect). Then it will lose its shine and start to flake. If you wait til it flakes, it's overdone. With most methods it's better to slightly undercook than to overcook, but not with poaching. You're trying to hit medium/medium-well. That is, the inside should be just barely, but fully cooked. Better a tiny bit too well done than medium rare. Try and catch it before it's too flaky or it will be dry, like canned tuna.

Discard the poaching liquid and the herbs, or, if you're very old fashioned you may strain the liquid and use it to make a veloute or even an allemande. That's it.

BDL
post #11 of 11
Are you using a poaching pan? Or some type of pan with a raised insert?

As Boar_d_laze pointed out... it should not boil, only simmer.

The fish should not touch the bottom directly.

If the fish was sitting directly on the bottom, you over heated it.

Without looking at the equipment you used,

Sounds like over cooked.

When you pulled the halibut how was it handled?
Just left on a plate to rest? With or without liquid?

Fish is almost always overcooked. I have been in some **** good restos that overcook the fish everytime. You could use a thermometer on your fish until you get used to how fast it cooks.

Try a piece of Florida Grouper. I make a lot of it, **** nice fish.
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