Top Chef Night: Arctic Char with Salsa Verde of Turnips

A friend of mine loves Top Chef and has invited me to join her in the weekly ritual of watching people cook on tv. I have joined a couple of times...and while I can't say I am adicted, it is a lot of fun to see the creativity expressed by some of these cooks/chefs. I for one am disappointed that the show seems to be more about the end product and less about the process. So, I decided to recreate one of the winning meals for my friends, to see what really goes into a Top Chef dish.

The winning dish a couple of weeks ago was Arctic Char with Salsa Verde of Turnips. And you can find the complete recipe here, though after attempting to recreate it myself, I doubt it was tested. I can just image some poor intern who had to watch footage of all the chefs scrambling to meet their deadline and then attempting to recreate the winning recipe...but I could be wrong.

Anywho, the recipe is full of techniques I have absolutely never tried before and doubt will try again. The only thing I skipped was to dust the char in fennel pollen. I called 12 local stores to see if they had fennel pollen and only one (Kitchen Window) had just over an ounce for $20. Nope. Golden Fig was most helpful and even offered me the name of a farmer they work closely with who could track it down.

One element of the dish required me to melt a pound of butter into some water and then add a juiced cucumber (cucumber pulp pictured). Into this mixture I cooked romaine lettuce. Gross to look at, but it was pretty tasty...and um, low calorie. Cooking the char was most interesting as I let olive oil infused with thyme and garlic heat in the oven at 180 for 45 minutes before removing it and allowing the fish to "baste" in the oil until cooked through. Didn't quite work, but turned out fine.

I dirtied almost every pot and pan in my kitchen and ended up with small lovely little plates of food that my guests assured me were tasty. I also served a bruschetta and ratatouille as I wasn't sure how much food would be edible. Totally fun and a great experience!!

Have you ever cooked a meal you saw on food tv? Tell me!