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Quebec-based French chef Jean Soulard shares a simple, delicious seafood dish.
Halibut with Crushed Tomatoes
1 4 oz fillet of halibut, skin and bones removed
1 pound zucchini
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
For crushed tomatoes:
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 oz shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Fresh chopped herbs (oregano, thyme, etc.)
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Wash zucchini and cut in thin slices, 1/8-inch thick. Blanch the slices in salted, boiling water, then cool and drain. To prepare the crushed tomatoes, remove stems from tomatoes. Plunge them into boiling water for 30 seconds. Cool in cold water and peel. Cut them in half and press them in the palm of your hand to extract the seeds, then dice. In a nonstick pan, sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 15 minutes, until liquid evaporates. Add spices to taste. Keep warm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the halibut in four equal pieces. Add salt and pepper. Place halibut on a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil. Layer the round slices of zucchini on each fillet. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients together. Spoon the warm crushed tomatoes onto each plate, then place the halibut fillets on the tomatoes. Drizzle immediately with the dressing. Garnish with a few sprigs of chives. Makes 4 servings.
Meet the Triathlete-Chef
Jean Soulard grew up in a small French village, where one of his grandmothers owned an inn and the other a bakery. “I learned about all the French classic [cuisine] at a young age,” says Soulard. He spent years working in Europe and Asia before settling in Quebec City, Quebec, where he’s been the executive chef at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac since 1993.
What makes the dishes at the Chateau unique, he says, are their ingredients, which are sourced locally. He gets everything from herbs and meat to foie gras and cheese from local producers, with whom Soulard has developed relationships over the past 15 years. “I believe that you cannot have good food if you don’t have a good [ingredient base], if you don’t have good quality,” he says.
In addition to creating fine French fare, another passion is triathlon. Soulard has been racing triathlon for about 20 years, since he moved to a town called Lac-Beauport, which hosts a triathlon every year. After watching the race one year, he decided to sign up. Ever since, he’s continued to compete and even stepped up to Ironman. With his busy work schedule nowadays, he focuses on Olympic and sprint-distance races. The training is productive in more ways than one.
“People ask me, ‘When do you think about new recipes?’” he says. “The best [recipe-inventing] time I have is when I’m running and when I’m on my bicycle.”