In my earlier days, I worked in the advertising business. Back then, it wasn’t frequent but not unusual to be involved in TV shoots that would last for days on end. The anticipation of working “on a shoot” added to the street cred that it gave one in the pub. Even I succumbed on occasion to saying things like “It may look like a lot of fun, but, it’s hard work.” “The ‘talent’ can be difficult to manage.” or “He’s one of the most gifted producers in world film today. We’re really lucky to have secured him for this paint commercial.” In fact, working on a big budget TV commercial back in the days of 35mm film was a royal pain in the arse. Unplugging a light could stop a commercial for hours as union labour rights were reestablished. Not having a ‘chippie’ (carpenter) on set could send the project south altogether. Everything seemed to take an age. For the hapless client service executive (me) it meant hours of sitting around doing nothing but being on high alert in case the client wanted anything. God forbid that the customer requested a change at the last minute. That would surely send the day’s shoot into overtime and lead to a vast bill with everybody involved (except me and the client) getting paid a big bonus. The best thing about those days was hearing the director call “It’s a wrap.”
In fairness to all involved, we turned out high quality commercials. Many that ran for years (they cost so much, they had to), only changing because of an inevitable packaging change. But, once one was over the tedium of hanging around the set, one could talk about the ads on TV, pointing out the ones that “we” made. But in truth, the best part of it really was that call “It’s a wrap.”
The only link that this rambling has to do with today’s recipe is the fact that it took a bit of time to produce, the Wife sat around like a latter day ad exec, doing nothing for the duration, and given what it is, it got “wrapped” three times. I think that qualifies my Parma Ham Wrapped Halibut Sous Vide for a bit of reminisce.
I served this with a split pea and spinach combination that is worthy of the task. So, without further ado, lights, camera, action!
Ingredients for the Parma Ham Wrapped Halibut
- Parma ham (10 slices)
- Halibut (400g)
For the Split Pea with Spinach Dhal
- Yellow Split Peas 250g
- Spinach 250g
- Teaspoon of turmeric
- Teaspoon of black mustard seed
- 1 onion
- Salt and pepper to season
Like a good commercial, I will leave a little to the imagination of you, the audience. To prepare the split peas, rinse, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes (or until they are just north of “al dente”). Drain and reserve. Rinse the spinach. Slice the onion up nice and small. Heat a wok and add a tablespoon of oil. When it’s hot enough to make the mustard seeds pop, add them. Let them pop for 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir until translucent. Add the dhal mixture and turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir it to really colour the mix a nice deep yellow. Add the spinach and allow it to wild down, mixing as it goes. Set the wok aside.
If you are as talented in the kitchen as ‘one of the most gifted producers in world film today’ was on the film set, you will have prepared the fish in advance of doing the dhal. It’s really simple. Skin and cut the fish into serving (large serving in this case) size portions.
Wrap the halibut in the ham, being sure to make pretty complete parcels. The picture tells it as it should be.
The finished piece looks good enough to eat. However it needs to be wrapped in cling film. This is to give it a decent chance of holding it’s shape when vacuum packed and also to prevent it unwrapping when cooked.
Vacuum seal this and pop it in a water bath at 55ºC for between half an hour and an hour.
Use the available time, if you are not still cooking the dhal, to open a nice bottle of white wine. When the fish is cooked, unwrap it, pat it dry and brown it quickly on all sides on a medium hot pan. Slice it and serve over the dhal.
This is a really stellar dish that can be cooked by anybody with a sous vide and a bit of skill and timing. In summary, my Parma Wrapped Halibut Sous Vide really is a winner. It’s one other time that it is great to hear “It’s a wrap”. Enjoy.