"One of our first (and most successful) fish items was halibut poached in carrot butter. We really wanted to include that recipe in the cookbook, but we couldn't remember what we originally served it with. So we experimented, and fennel came up the winner."
2 pounds small carrots, with tops
3 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter
3 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cups fresh carrot juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed, plus 1 whole clove garlic
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 orange
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets, each about 6 ounces (or 185 grams)
Maldon flake salt, to taste
for the fennel salad:
1 fennel bulb, sliced 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick using a mandoline
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped white anchovies (boquerones)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (or 180°C).
2. Remove the carrot tops, wash, and set aside. Peel the carrots and halve them lengthwise. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt ½ cup (125 g) of the butter with the anchovies and the grated zest from two of the lemons. Add the carrots and season with kosher salt. Transfer to a baking sheet, spread in a single layer, and roast in the oven until slightly softened but still a little crunchy, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with the juice of one lemon.
3. In a shallow sauté pan over medium heat, combine the carrot juice, the crushed garlic, bay leaf, and orange zest. Cook until reduced by three-quarters, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups (750 g) butter and stir until melted, then reduce the heat to very low and keep warm.
4. Next, we're going to buzz our carrot top pesto. Simply combine the carrot tops, the whole clove garlic, the olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and a pinch of kosher salt in a blender and blend until you have a fine pesto consistency. Set aside.
To make the fennel salad, in a bowl combine the fennel, olive oil, chives, and anchovies and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Now, to poach the fish. Heat the carrot butter to 130° F (55° C) over low heat. Season the halibut with kosher salt and add the fish to the butter. Keeping the butter at 130° F (55° C), poach the halibut until you can press down on the fish with a fork and don't feel a pop (that pop is connective tissue that hasn't yet broken down), about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the halibut to a plate lined with paper towels. Squeeze the juice of the third lemon over the fish and sprinkle with Maldon salt.
6. To serve, place roasted carrots in the center of four shallow bowls and top each with a halibut fillet. Top each halibut fillet with the fennel salad. Drizzle the pesto around the fish, spoon a tablespoon of carrot butter over each plate, and serve.