By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Media Services
But I can't stop playing with that perfectly balanced combination of great summertime flavors. Sometimes I'll use them to complement other great seasonal ingredients, as I do in the recipe I share with you here for Pan-Roasted Halibut Fillets with Sweet Corn and Clam Ragout.
Halibut is a perfect fish for letting your culinary fantasies run wild. Meaty yet very mild, moist, and tender, it goes well with so many different combinations of flavors. Make sure you purchase halibut that is wild-caught Pacific halibut from Alaska. (You can also try the recipe with long-line Pacific cod, striped bass, wild-caught red snapper from Hawaii, or almost any other sustainable fish you like.)
Even during outdoor cooking season, I choose to saute halibut because it's a quick, easy way to ensure that the fish turns out perfectly moist rather than running the risk of drying out from a grill's intense heat. You don't have to spend too much time cooking the fish, either, since halibut fillets will cook in less than 10 minutes on top of your stove.
And even if you get distracted and overcook the fish a little bit, no one will notice, because the sauce adds lots of delicious moisture to the finished dish.
I start making the sauce first, steaming clams with garlic, herbs, and white wine until they open. Use only the freshest of clams from a reliable source, preferably farmed steamers, littlenecks or cockles. Your clams should have only a clean ocean aroma. When you get them home, put them in a large bowl, cover with a damp towel, and store them in the refrigerator, using them the same day you buy them.
As for the corn, the ideal is to buy it from a roadside stand next to the field where it was grown, or from the farmers' market. Fortunately, however, super-sweet varieties widely available today ensure that you'll have great corn flavor for this dish even if you buy the corn from your local supermarket.
Once you've got all the ingredients, the entire dish will take you no more than about half an hour to prepare. And when your friends ask you where you got such a delicious recipe, tell them it came from Mother Nature!
Ingredients - Sauteed Halibut with Sweet Corn and Clam Ragout Recipe
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound fresh clams (see above), thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed with cold running water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked and stringed, kernels cut from the cob
Freshly ground black pepper
4 portions halibut fillet, (see above) each about 6 ounces
Preparation - Sauteed Halibut with Sweet Corn and Clam Ragout Recipe
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add half of the parsley along with the thyme and wine; raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add the clams, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover the pan, and steam the clams until they open, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a large colander or strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a mixing bowl. When the clams are ready, pour them and their steaming liquid into the colander or strainer. Set the bowl aside for the clams to drain and cool.
When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells, transferring the meat to a bowl and discarding any clams that haven't opened. Set aside the clam meat and, separately, their strained cooking liquid.
In a medium-sized skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and saute until tender-crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the clam meat and 1 tablespoon parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm.
To cook the halibut fillets, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet large enough to hold them. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and saute until they are golden brown and cooked through, moist but still flaky when the thickest part of one is pierced with a knife tip, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, bring the strained clam liquid to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and boil until it reduces by about half its volume. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and whisk them into the liquid to form a slightly thickened sauce, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining parsley.
To serve, spoon the warmed ragout of corn and clams into the center of individual heated serving plates. Put the halibut fillets on top and drizzle the sauce over and around the fish.
(c) 2008 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck
The world-renowned chef with an extraordinary passion for food now shares that passion in Wolfgang
Puck's Kitchen. Puck makes great cooking easier than you ever imagined. He reveals how to turn common ingredients into uncommon masterpieces. Each feature includes both an expert tip and an easy recipe-exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable. Moves with color photos.
About Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck, in the eyes of food lovers and experts alike, is one of the most famous chefs in America and arguably the world. He has spawned a culinary empire that includes a fine dining group of 12 internationally acclaimed restaurants in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Maui; an extensive catering & events business with bases in Hollywood and Chicago, famed as official caterer to the Governors Ball following the Oscars; as well as Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., a corporation that controls, licenses, and franchises the Wolfgang Puck brand in a wide variety of business activities, including casual Wolfgang Puck Cafes, fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Expresses, consumer packaged foods, cookware, book publishing, television, and the Internet.
For the first time, Puck shares his expert, easy-to-master approach to cooking in the newspaper arena through WOLFGANG PUCK?S KITCHEN, a newspaper column syndicated by Tribune Media Services.
The Austrian-born Puck began his formal training at age 14, inspired by his mother, Maria, a hotel chef. He left Europe for America in 1973 at the age of 24, having already worked in the master kitchens of three-star French restaurants. In 1975, Puck moved to Los Angeles, and soon was both chef and part-owner of Ma Maison. It quickly became a magnet for the rich and famous, with Puck as star attraction. Since then, he has changed the way Americans cook and eat by fusing formal French techniques and Asian and California influenced esthetics with the highest quality ingredients.
After the 1981 publication of the first of his five cookbooks, Puck, in partnership with designer Barbara Lazaroff, opened Spago. Located in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, it was an instant success and culinary phenomenon from its opening day in 1982. Although the original location closed in 2000, three years after the successful opening of Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Hollywood today is remembered internationally as a legendary haven for entertainment, political and social luminaries.
In 2000, Puck developed his own "Wolfgang Puck" television show, which began airing on the Food Network in January 2001. The show features Puck sharing his cooking expertise with a studio audience who joins him in his kitchen, along with field documentary segments in which he explores the vast and diverse world of food, from farms to artisan workshops to restaurants, and visits with such luminaries as Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Paul Bocuse. "Wolfgang Puck" was awarded a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Service Show in 2002.
Puck also appears regularly on ABC's "Good Morning America," sharing his latest creations. He has been a guest on a multitude of other shows, including "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Entertainment Tonight," "ABC News with Peter Jennings," "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," "Frasier," and "The Simpsons." In 2001, the A&E Network featured Puck's life on its popular "Biography" series.
Puck and partner Barbara Lazaroff are actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, including their own Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation, established in 1982, which supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival to benefit Meals-on-Wheels.
Puck lives in Beverly Hills. He and Barbara Lazaroff have two sons, Cameron and Byron.
(c) 2008 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.