Shannon O'Hara
Pecan Wood–Roasted Grouper with Spring Leek Escabeche & Three Egg Sauce from Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston
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Pecan Wood–Roasted Grouper with Spring Leek Escabeche & Three Egg Sauce

Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston / July 2013

For 4 servings (requires advance preparation)

Grouper:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tsps. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tsps. granulated sugar
  • 4  6-oz. Warsaw grouper fillets
  1. Bring salt, sugar, and 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar; remove from heat; cool.

  2. Place grouper in half hotel pan; pour brine over; let stand 15 minutes; drain; pat fish dry; wrap tightly in plastic; reserve in refrigerator.

Leek escabeche:

  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Pickled leeks:

  • 6 Tbsps. plus 2 tsps. white distilled vinegar
  • 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  1. Place reserved leek roots in nonreactive metal bowl; reserve.

  2. 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.

Dashi:

  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Sauce:

  • 6 lg. eggs
  • 2/3 cup grapeseed oil
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Assembly:

  • 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)
  1. Heat a grill, a pit, or a hearth to high.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.