Inspired by Chef Ed Lee
I take any excuse I can find to make Louisville chef Ed Lee’s frog legs in fish sauce. I had the opportunity once to stand next to him while he made the dish and I was hooked right away. One day, however, I found myself without frog legs. Shocking, but true. Turns out, the warm, toothy texture of cooked halibut is a perfect substitute in Ed’s dish, so I started playing around and came up with this take on a modern-Asian, backwoods-Kentucky frog dish. You almost never get to say that, do you? I serve this with plenty of rice and a side of grilled miso-glazed eggplant.
Halibut with Brown Butter, Lemon & Aged Fish Sauce
- 1/4 cup wheat berries
- 1 stick salted butter
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- Four 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of scallions, minced (1 cup)
- 1 dried hot chile, such as árbol
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons Blis Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce or Red Boat conventional fish sauce
- Steamed white rice, for serving
In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the wheat berries until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool.
In a small skillet, toast the wheat berries until golden and crunchy, 7 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Cook over moderate heat until golden brown and nutty-smelling, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the halibut with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add the celery, scallions and dried chile to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the brown butter, lime juice and fish sauce and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the fish and turn to coat in the sauce. Discard the dried chile. Transfer the fish and sauce to a platter and garnish with some of the toasted wheat berries. Serve with rice.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Kate N.G. Sommers.