To be very blunt, "Cooked simply and presented in a light, clear broth" sounds incredibly boring. What are you going to pair it with, a small glass of water, no ice? Don't take this too hard, you're a student. But besides taste, I also have to wonder about texture. Why would you create a crust of any sort by searing, than get it soggy by presenting it in soup? Moral of the story: Don't confuse magazine cover presentation/food styling with actual food.
Even though the various small soles are flounders, "flounder" and small soles are different. Don't know that I'd try to make flounder in any way which is particularly associated with sole or any very thin fish.
Flounder is about as versatile as a fish gets and does a lot of things well. You can make a very spicy soup with the cheeks, Korean style; grill it, smoke it; deep fry it; "carpaccio," terrine of halibut mousse, quenelles, just about anything. Also worth noting, flounder skin crisps well and is as palatable and delicious as just about any fish skin.
The halibut fin muscle -- called engawa in Japanese -- is very interesting. It's not well known (in the US at least). It's thinner, a bit firmer and slightly less fishy than the rest of the halibut, which wasn't fishy at all to begin with. If you're skilled enough to take it, it's a delicacy which can be prepared in any of the same ways as any other part of the fish -- except for poaching or soup.
Most western cooks like a very flexible knife for smaller flat fish. I don't particularly, but that's neither here nor there. If the halibut you get to work with is mid size or bigger, that's not particularly important. What does matter with all fish is approaching them with a sharp edge and a great deal of confidence. If you cut too slowly, making lots of little cuts instead of just cutting the darn fish, you'll leave a ragged, almost furry surface. Not good. Not good at all. You want glass smooth. Go very sharp and go very fast, even it means some extra waste.
If you can cut, you might consider doing some very, very thin sashimi. If you can't go really thin, either don't do it at all, or use the engawa.
When properly cooked, which is a bit more done than salmon should be, halibut gets light, tender and somewhat fluffy. That's the done point. Texture is cooked flounder's most attractive point, because otherwise it's somewhat boring.
If it were my test, I'd do an "Iron Chef" presentation with Halibut served several ways. Unless you're catching your own fish or cooking for hundreds of covers, 6 hours is a ridiculous amount of time to spend on one dish. So, my menu would look along the lines of:
- App: Blini with smoked halibut, garnished with salmon roe and herbed creme fraiche, served with a micro-green salad; and spicy tequila/oyster shooter.
Soup: Jamaican style "Fish Tea" (gives you a chance to make and use a fumet, make sure to control the spice level by brewing a whole habanero or scotch bonnet, don't cut it up.)
- First: Halibut Three Ways, Asian Style -- Tempura halibut with tempura "fry-cut" potatoes (aka mini Japanese fish and chips), Cooked Engawa Sushi (with a dab of hoisin sauce), Sashimi with minced garlic-chive and lemon zest; lemon/cucumber soju cocktail.
- Cleanser: Pink grapefruit/mint sorbet.
- Second: Pan seared halibut with crispy skin and Nantais sauce (holds so much better than beurre blanc), on a bed of roasted mashed root veg, garnished with steamed broccolini; and a crisp sparkler (like Schramsberg Blanc de Noir).
By now you get the idea. These aren't so much particular menu suggestions as a way of visualizing a menu. You have your own strengths and weaknesses, and should use them.
BDLEdited by boar_d_laze - 9/16/11 at 10:45am