Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Pureé for a Music-Inspired #SundaySupper

Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Pureé

A little bit of behind the scenes notes for the last couple of dishes. Let me first start by noting that I hate to leave my work to the last minute, but sadly that was not the case with the dessert I published last week. I planned on preparing the dish Thursday evening, but Mrs. Stuntman was not home unexpectedly that evening. I don't remember what prevented me from preparing the dessert on Friday, but suffice to say, it didn't get done. In fact, the picture of the dessert was taken only hours before it was published. I had competed in the rib competition earlier that Saturday and was tired when I returned home. I finally gathered enough energy about 7pm to prepare and finalize the dish which I completed about 3 hours later. I was still writing about the dish until about 1am Sunday morning when I could no longer keep my eyes open and scheduled the dish to be published at 1:30am.

So on Sunday evening I was reviewing the themes for upcoming #SundaySupper events and this one sounded like fun. The theme is dishes inspired by music. So Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was spent picking a song and conceptualizing a dish using my copy of The Flavor Bible. Once finalized, I committed to it Wednesday afternoon and was going to purchase my ingredients on Thursday morning to prepare that evening but I woke up with an immobilizing toe injury. I could move but not without discomfort and even going from room to room took minutes, not seconds. Thursday evening, Mrs. Stuntman even had to buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket deli because I couldn't cook any dinner that evening, much less one of sufficient quality for this publication. Friday I was downing pain meds like candy and was able to suffer through the preparation of a favorite dish but I had to wait an hour for the pain in my foot to subside before I could plate it. I was close to emailing Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen (this week's host) to back out of my commitment but decided to wait until Saturday morning to confirm. Low and behold, Saturday I was still in pain but was bearable and was able to make it to the store. So here I was again, back on a Saturday evening hours before my deadline cooking the dish I was supposed to publish in just hours. It was 10:30pm last night Pacific Standard Time before I tasted my dinner.

Thankfully, the dish itself softened the blow. More on that later.

I would argue that tastes in music are even more subjective than tastes in food. Take a look at the wide variety of genres that inspired the dishes below and you'll see. In high school, I started out in the late 1980s listening to those hair bands. These bands didn't have a dedicated radio station so the only place I could find their music were these rock stations that mixed in some 1970s music (think Led Zeppelin, the Who, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, etc.) By the time I graduated high school, I was completely frustrated with even MTV because their playlist consisted of about a half-dozen songs, but I found blues listening to Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. From there, I found Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and B. B. King, just to name a few. One upper division course I was able to take while attending college and have it count towards my degree was a jazz history course and have been hooked ever since.

My favorites? I like older material such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Herbie Hancock, and John Coltrane. I believe "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis is the single best piece of recorded music that was made in the 20th century. Another favorite is the live version of Dinah Washington's song, Fast Movin' Mama. (I almost got into an accident the first time I heard it because I was driving at the time and laughing so hard.) Some more contemporary musicians I recommend are Dee Dee Bridgewater, Regina Carter and Dianne Reeves. I can tell that I'm getting old because I hear the lists of Grammy nominations every winter and have never heard of most of the nominees, let alone heard their music. I've found that there is a certain charm in older music that is missing in music published today: Deeper lyrical content and the restraint shown to simply imply rather than the need for many musicians to describe in graphic detail. For example, as I was doing research for this dish I remember reading something somewhere which made the point that many jazz songs which reference food are euphemisms for sex.

Don't worry. The song that provided inspiration for this dish may be taken at face value. It's about two buddies going to a house party in New Orleans one evening long ago that got raided by the police. I only noted a dish inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and a second one inspired by Etta James this week but I felt there needed to be more representation of old school music. Besides the obvious reference to food in the title, I picked this song in particular because Louis Jordan was referenced as a major influence among those that laid the foundation for rock and roll sixty years ago. (Think Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Little Richard and others.) In fact, Saturday Night Fish Fry has been considered by many as the first rock and roll song.

The Challenge

One of the reasons why I waited to finalize a concept for this dish was because halibut went on sale on Wednesday. (I also considered Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones and The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin.) When I thought of fried fish, I kept thinking fish and chips which was confirmed by The Flavor Bible which noted asparagus, lemon, potatoes and spinach as complementary ingredients to halibut.

The Source

I adapted the halibut from Food Network; the hash from Food & Wine; and the pureé from epicurious.


1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch lengths
2 teaspoons lemon juice
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large russet potato (approximately 1 pound)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups spinach leaves (approximately 2 ounces) rinsed and dried, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)


1. Prepare the pureé: In a medium saucepan, bring well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and boil until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove the asparagus to a blender with a slotted spoon and pureé, reserving 1 cup of the boiling water. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the consistency is too thick, add the reserved water as necessary and pureé until smooth. Keep warm in that saucepan while you prepare the other components.

2. Prepare the hash: Place the potato in a small saucepan and fill with water until the potato is completely submerged and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a large pinch of salt and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the potato with the slotted spoon and reserve. When cool enough to handle, cut potato into a medium dice. (It may not be cooked all the way through.) Add the corn into the same boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, approximately 3 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towels and reserve. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the reserved corn and cook until lightly toasted, approximately 3 minutes. Add the 3 cups spinach and cook until wilted, approximately 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat, but immediately add the parmesan and stir to melt.

3. Sear the halibut and finish the dish: While the corn and potatoes are cooking in the pan, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and season the fillets with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the fillets to the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter to allow for any carryover cooking. To plate, spoon a tablespoon of the pureé onto a plate. Place a spoonful of hash onto the pureé, then top the hash with the fillet and garnish with torn spinach leaves.


I was surprised how well-balanced this dish is considering the conditions in which it was constructed. The sweetness of the corn balanced the hit of acidity in the pureé with the savory fish and potatoes. Mrs. Stuntman especially enjoyed the pureé and thought it was the best component of the dish. Overall, the dish contained the complexities of flavor expected in any fine dining establishment. Lastly, you'll be glad to know that I can guarantee I won't be rushing my next dish because I've already prepared it.

For reference (and in case you haven't heard the song), it was uploaded to YouTube and can be listened to below:

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper contributors:

Prelude (Beverages):

Calimocho (Red Red Wine Cocktail) from La Cocina de Leslie inspired by Red Red Wine by UB40
Dark & Stormy Cocktail Recipe from An Appealing Plan inspired by Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
Horchata from Treats & Trinkets inspired by Horchata by Vampire Weekend
Orange Crush from Magnolia Days inspired by Orange Crush by REM
Pineapple Lemonade Slushy with Coconut Water from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz inspired by Lemon Tree by Peter, Paul & Mary
Strawberry Tequila from Shockingly Delicious inspired by Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles

Overture (Appetizers):

Mustard Dill Beer Bread from Curious Cuisiniere inspired by In Heaven There Is No Beer a German Polka

Intermezzo (Entrees & Sides):

Chicken and Bacon Cheddar Waffles from I Run For Wine inspired by Glady’s Knight
Classic Fried Chicken from The Food Army Wife inspired by Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band
Margarita Chicken from In The Kitchen With KP inspired by Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet
Meatball Duet from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer
Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Puree from Crazy Foodie Stunts inspired by Saturday Night Fish Fry by Louis Jordan
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork from Neighborfood inspired by Something Like That by Tim McGraw
Spaghetti and Pork Meatballs from Family Foodie inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Kidsongs
Teriyaki Burger from Juanita’s Cocina inspired by Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet

Finale (Desserts):

Banana Cream Pie Bars from Peanut Butter and Peppers inspired by Tra La La Song by The Banana Splits
Banana Pancake Ice Cream with Maple Brittle from Foxes Love Lemons inspired by Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
Cherry Pie from My Cute Bride inspired by Cherry Pie by Warrant
Cherry Marshmallows from Pies and Plots
Chocolate Cappuccino Cream Puffs from Runner’s Tales inspired by Choux Pastry Heart by Corinne Bailey Rae
Chocolate Chip, Walnut and Caramel Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich from Ruffles & Truffles inspired by Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani
Chocolate Covered Caramels from Big Bear’s Wife inspired by At Last by Etta James
Coconut Rum Blondies from Gotta Get Baked inspired by I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts by Danny Kaye
Easy Blueberry Recipe: Fruit Tart from Growing Up Gabel inspired by Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino
Espresso Nib Ice Cream from Vintage Kitchen Notes inspired by Black Coffee by Ella Fitzgerald
Fancy Watermelon Lime Popsicles from Daily Dish Recipes inspired by Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd
Fresh Peach Pie from Killer Bunnies, Inc. inspired by Sweet Sweet Pie by PWEI
Jammin’ Oatmeal Cookies from What Smells So Good? inspired by Jammin’ by Bob Marley
Many Flavors Whipped Cream from Noshing with the Nolands inspired by Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass
Peach Basil Pie from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Pina Colada Poke Cake from Cookin’ Mimi inspired by Two Pina Coladas by Garth Brooks
Peach Donuts with Brown Sugar from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Peach Strudel with Honey Bourbon Frozen Yogurt from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures inspired by My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music & Wild Honey by U2
Rainbow Pops from The Urban Mrs inspired by Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Salted Ripple Chip No-Churn Ice Cream from Cupcakes & Kale Chips inspired by Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan
Salted Peanut Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream from girlichef inspired by Salt Peanuts by The Quintet
Shall We Dance? Fairy Cakes from The Ninja Baker inspired by Shall We Dance from the Japanese Film
Sugar Crusted Zucchini Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake inspired by Sugar, Sugar by the Archies
Tangerine Sorbet from Webicurean inspired by Tangerine Speedo by Caviar
Yeasted Banana Bread from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner inspired by I Like Bread and Butter by The New Beats

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here ? Sunday Supper Movement.


  1. Ohhhhm your pan seared halibut look amazing! I think you made a great choice with your song and a FAB recipe! Yummers!

  2. A lovely halibut recipe! It's one of my favorite fish to eat. Brilliant to pair it with corn and asparagus.

  3. Halibut is one of my favorite fishes to cook. Love the corn hash too!

  4. This looks wonderful, as always!

  5. I love your choice of song! And such great inspiration (though I would've loved to see what you made with either of those other 2 songs, as well).

    I don't know if you listen to any Dave Matthews, or not...but you can find some great lyrical depth in his music. :)

    This sounds like a delicious meal...and I hope you're toe is better!

  6. What a gorgeous plate of halibut!!! I hope you're feeling less pain today...

  7. I love this dish! It sounds like we're the same "generation" (gawd, I sound old!), but seems like you went the rock n roll route while I gravitated to R&B and early rap/hip hop (not so much a fan of current rap). I will have to give your song a listen....

    Hope you're feeling better!

  8. I've so been there on those late night last minute postings. The best of intentions. *sigh* It looks terrific despite the crunch!

  9. Wow, great research - and execution!

  10. What a good looking piece of fish, perfect crust and the corn hash served with it sounds amazing! I hope your toe is feeling better too!

  11. Saw your post on Google+ and was curious about which song you chose. I could have written much of your post--growing up listening to 80s hair bands and what was then considered classic rock. I guess the 80s bands are considered classic these days! Now I'm big into blues. Robert Johnson, Taj Mahal, and Tab Benoit are some of my favorites.
    Great dish and great post!

  12. Looks fantastic! We're eating more fish these days but haven'g done halibut yet. Definitely will have to try it.

  13. Brown Sugar was totes my back up song in case of an epic fail. Great minds, eh? But I'm glad you went with this because this dish looks so good. I'm in love with that corn hash.

  14. Love your taste in music and fish! Once again, you've prepared a symphony of flavor on a plate =)

  15. I hope you are feeling better. Fantastic dish and great inspiration. I'm loving the idea of the asparagus puree.

  16. Halibut is one of my favorite fish. You caramelized it perfectly! The corn hash sounds really good too!

  17. Oy, what an ordeal! I'm ashamed to say that I make my Sunday Supper dishes at the last minute most of the time (and I can relate to writing the post at 1 am on a Sunday morning). There just never seems to be enough time or unexpected things come up. I hope your foot is all better! I love everything about your dish. I don't eat halibut enough, even though I love it, and I'm drooling over your hash. Fantastic post for this week! I also prefer older music. Growing up with parents and sisters who liked the classics, as well as listening to whatever's popular on the radio, I have a pretty eclectic taste in music myself. I agree with you - current music doesn't have the soul and longevity that older music has. I say to my husband all the time when we hear something generic on the radio, "This will be completely forgotten in another year or so."

  18. DB thanks for sharing the song I'm a fan of all the old blues pioneers and music going back to Jellyroll Martin. Your fish and hash sound like a winning combo!

  19. Mmm... I love halibut. This looks so divine!
    Hope your foot is feeling better. And I loved your song choice!

  20. Yum, I love halibut! But I'm really salivating over that corn hash!

  21. Wow wow wow - this fish dish looks incredible. I love the ingredients you combined; it sounds fantastic.


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