Ode to Butter Poaching

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that you can’t trust a skinny cook.

Which perhaps justifies my decision on how to prepare a fish known as ‘butterfish’… why, butter poach it of course! 

The whole meal started with a desire to test out Cottonwood Grille’s new Fresh Market concept - where you can ‘purchase a seasonal selection of exotic meat, game, fish and seafood at market prices.’ Just call ahead or swing by the restaurant and check out the Fresh chalkboard. On the fresh list when we stopped by:
Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns
Fresh North Atlantic Sea Scallops
Black Canyon Ranch raised Elk Sirloin
Local (can’t remember where!) venison
Northwest Premium Buffalo Sirloin
Fresh and Farm Raised Fish (call for most current offerings)
Prime Grade New York Strip Steak
Prime Grade Boneless Rib Eye Steak

I was thinking steak but when the hostess told me they had Walu my mouth started watering and I walked out with two filets. Next to a kickass piece of fresh halibut I had while dining overlooking Victoria Harbor (butter poached of course!), the last time I had such fond memory of a fish was Walu we’d had on a trip to Kauai.

Now, little did I know that Walu (aka ‘Butterfish’ aka ‘Oilfish’ aka Hawaiian Escolar) gets somewhat of a bad rap among certain bloggers and foodies. This type of fish contains a unique oil that – for a small percentage of the population – causes some, ahem, intestinal issues. So if you do the Google and stumble upon those listings don’t be swayed. Per online advice from various chefs – keep your portions to less than 7oz to be on the safe side, and preparations that work for halibut are also great for Walu.
After going down the rabbit hole after recipes specific to Walu and becoming very frustrated, we (as in Kevin doing the cooking and me jumping around the kitchen) decided to go to the old standby of simple seasoning (fresh basil, pepper & freshly ground smoked salt courtesy the Co-op’s fancy salt shelf) and butter poaching.  Melt chunks of butter, float the fish in the bath of goodness over low heat, and voila!
Love this ode to the simplicity of this fish preparation – the NYTimes ‘A Date with Warm Fish
And we kept the whole meal simple. Someday we’ll master the art of the multi-colored meal. For now – the Fiesta ware has to provide the color. Idaho’s Bounty cucumbers in simple vinaigrette and quick sauteed red fingerling potatoes with parmesan.    

The Walu rocked – and definitely invoked the foodie memory of Kauai. And I’ll be going back to the Fresh Market at CG – though a tip or piece of advice from the kitchen on prep would be a nice added touch! Else I may try to butter poach some Rib Eye.

- Jess