Pecan Wood–Roasted Grouper with Spring Leek Escabeche & Three Egg Sauce
Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston / July 2013
For 4 servings (requires advance preparation)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tsps. salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tsps. granulated sugar
- 4 6-oz. Warsaw grouper fillets
Bring salt, sugar, and 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar; remove from heat; cool.
Place grouper in half hotel pan; pour brine over; let stand 15 minutes; drain; pat fish dry; wrap tightly in plastic; reserve in refrigerator.
- 12 lemons, zested
- 14 sprigs thyme
- 5 sprigs mint
- 3 Tbsps. whole coriander seeds, toasted
- 2 Tbsps. black peppercorns, toasted
- 2 tsps. whole cumin seeds, toasted
- 2 pods star anise
- 2 tsps. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 leeks, layers separated, roots removed, cleaned of all dirt, and reserved
- 1 1/3 cups lemon juice
- 6 Tbsps. plus 2 tsps. Champagne vinegar
- 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. Sherry vinegar
Place zest, thyme, mint, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, star anise, and red pepper flakes on top of a piece of cheesecloth; tie up with kitchen twine; place in large bowl; reserve.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed pot set over high heat; add leeks in layers; cook, stirring, until wilted (about 30 seconds); add lemon juice, vinegars, and 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. water; bring to a boil; cook 45 seconds; remove from heat; pour over sachet in bowl; let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour or overnight.
- 6 Tbsps. plus 2 tsps. white distilled vinegar
- 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
Place reserved leek roots in nonreactive metal bowl; reserve.
Bring vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsps. water to boil in large pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat; pour over roots; let sit at least 1 hour; cover; reserve.
- 1 sheet kombu
- 6 Tbsps. plus 2 tsps. bonito flakes
Heat 6 cups water in large pot until steaming; remove from heat; add kombu; let stand 10 minutes; remove kombu; bring broth to a boil; add bonito flakes; remove from heat; let stand 45 minutes; strain through fine chinois into clean pot; discard solids; reserve dashi (keep warm).
Dried egg yolks:
- 8 lg. eggs, at room temperature
Bring water to a boil in large pot; add eggs; cook 12 minutes; remove from heat; using slotted spoon, place in ice water bath; cool.
Peel eggs; separate yolks from whites (reserve whites for another use); push egg yolks through a sieve into metal bowl; set bowl over pot of boiling water; cook, stirring occasionally, until yolks are dry and the texture of sand; remove from heat; cool; reserve.
- 6 lg. eggs
- 2/3 cup grapeseed oil
Bring water to a boil in large pot; add eggs; cook 4 1/2 minutes; remove from heat; using slotted spoon, place in ice water bath; cool.
Peel eggs; mix soft-boiled eggs and dashi in a blender; with motor running, gradually add oil; blend until smooth; place in airtight container; cool; cover; reserve.
- 1 Tbsp. chopped chives
- 1 Tbsp. whipped cream
- 1 Tbsp. mild caviar, such as farmed Louisiana caviar
- leek, garlic scape, or chive flowers (for garnish)
Heat a grill, a pit, or a hearth to high.
Grill grouper over pecan wood on adjustable roasting rack; cook 10 minutes, adjusting rack 1/2 an inch from coals first minute and moving to 8 inches from flames for remaining 9 minutes; flip again; cook 10 minutes, adjusting rack 1/2 inch from coals first minute and moving to 8 inches from flames remaining 9 minutes; remove from heat; place on a platter; slice; reserve (keep warm).
To serve, gently fold 2 Tbsps. dried yolks, chives, and cream into sauce; gently stir in caviar; place fish on serving plates; layer escabeche in random crossing fashion next to the fish; place 2 pickled leek roots on top of escabeche on each plate; garnish with leek flowers; spoon sauce over fish.