Crab, ginger & tofu-crusted halibut on wok-fried greens with red lentil coconut broth

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Preparation info

  • For

    6

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

I created this dish when we opened my Auckland restaurant dine by Peter Gordon, I’d been making the mousse to use as a crust on fish for many years, often adding some coconut cream, shredded kaffir lime leaves or prawn mince to give it a twist. However, I wanted to create a signature dish for the restaurant, and I had a hunch this would be it. We serve it on top of roasted kumara and plenty of wok-fried Asian greens and the fish we mostly use is the lovely hapuku - a meaty but tender fish native to New Zealand’s waters. The addition of red lentils gives the sauce a great texture and a wonderful earthy taste, and the pandan adds an almost vanilla aroma to the dish, although don’t fret if you can’t find pandan leaves, the flavour is terrific, but not essential.

Ingredients

  • 6 x 120-140-g portions of halibut fillet, skin and bones removed
  • 1 x recipe of the tofu crab mousse
  • 80 g red lentils (orange split peas)
  • ¼ leek, thinly sliced and washed to remove grit if needed
  • 100 g ripe plantain, peeled and sliced or use a semi-ripe banana if you can’t locate a plantain
  • 1 pandan leaf, tied into several knots (optional, but tasty)
  • ½ thumb of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 50 ml tamarind paste
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) fish sauce
  • 50 g panko crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • a handful of Asian vegetables - choose a mixture of any of the following: bok choy, gai lan, pak choy, enoki or shiitake mushrooms, wing beans or long beans, etc.
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) toasted sesame oil
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) soy sauce
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) mirin

Method

Lightly season the fish on one side, then spread the tofu crab mousse evenly over the other side to form a coating. Place on a tray or plate, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge while you prepare everything else.

Put the lentils, leek, plantain, pandan leaf and ginger in a pan and add 500 ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and cook on a rapid simmer until the water has all but evaporated and the lentils are cooked and bursting. Add the black cardamom, coconut milk and another 200 ml water and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pandan leaf and cardamom then mix in the tamarind and fish sauce. Pureée using a stick blender or bar blender and taste for seasoning. This can be made up to 3 days in advance if stored in the fridge once cooled.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the panko crumbs onto a plate then press the mousse side of the fish into them gently to give an even coating. Place a frying-pan over a moderate heat and when it’s hot add vegetable oil to give a ½ cm depth. Place the fish in (as many portions as will fit comfortably), mousse-side down, and cook until the crumbs are a deep golden colour. Carefully flip the fish over and cook for 1 minute, then transfer to a baking tray (if your pan doesn’t hold all the fish at once). Place in the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish - to test if it’s cooked poke a small sharp knife into the thickest part - it should be translucent. Turn off the oven and open the door to keep it warm while you cook the vegetables.

While the fish is cooking, heat up a wok or a large wide pan or pot, and add a splash of vegetable oil. Add the Asian vegetables and toss or stir them for 30 seconds, keeping the wok on the heat. Mix the sesame oil, soy and mirin and add to the wok. The vegetables will only need a minute of cooking - you want them to stay crunchy.

To Serve

Ladle some broth into six bowl-plates. Pile the vegetables in, then sit a portion of fish on top with the crumbed side facing up.