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Chef John Besh

Acclaimed chef John Besh grew up hunting and fishing in Southern Louisiana, learning at an early age the essentials of Louisiana's rich culinary traditions. "With all the cultural influences in Louisiana," he says, "it's an exciting place to learn about food." And he should know: years later, fortunate enough to have traveled and studied the world over, Besh has set the benchmark for fine dining in New Orleans, one of the world's most esteemed restaurant cities - and he is still learning, growing, and refining his work at the forefront of his industry.

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Why Alaska?

"One visit to Alaska and I was "hooked!" Perhaps it's their commitment to the sustainable management of their precious fisheries or the taste and texture of the deep cold blue water fish such as black cod and rockfish. Not to mention the fat king salmon caught at the mouth of the Yukon River. The flavors transport me to the wilds of an undisturbed Alaska."

~ Chef John Besh
Pan Roasted Wild Alaska Halibut with Morel Confiture, Sweet Pea Risotto and Morel Tea
Serves: 4
Ingredients and Preparation:
For the Halibut:
4 Alaska halibut steaks, cut into 5-6 oz. portions
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated finely
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Season each portion of halibut with sea salt and dredge into the combined mixture of flour and Parmesan cheese.
  2. Sauté over medium high heat for several minutes on each side until the fish is cooked to medium. Reserve the fish in a warm place for later use.
For the Sweet Pea Risotto:
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken broth (hot)
1/2 cup sweet peas or English peas, blanched
1/4 cup morel mushrooms, washed, sliced and drained
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch chives, fresh, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium heat, sweat the yellow onions with the extra virgin olive oil until the onions are translucent.
  2. Once the onions have cooked add the Arborio rice and stir slowly for two minutes. Cover the rice with chicken broth and allow to simmer while periodically stirring. As the liquid is absorbed by the rice, cover again with the hot chicken broth and stir again until absorbed.
  3. Once the last of the chicken broth has been added the rice should be cooked. You will notice it is firm to the bite and just a little 'soupy,' at this point add the sweet peas, morel mushrooms and butter.
  4. Stir the rice mixture for one moment and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Finish the rice with the grated Parmesan cheese and chopped chives. Place each portion of rice in a serving bowl and reserve in a warm place for later use.
For the Morel Tea:
1 cup morel mushrooms, dried
1 sprig thyme, fresh
1 clove garlic, hand crushed
1 qt. vegetable broth (hot)
  1. In a large teapot place the dried mushrooms, fresh thyme and garlic.
  2. Just before serving pour the vegetable broth into the pot and all the flavors to steep for a few minutes. Reserve the tea for serving as a sauce.
For the Morel Confiture:
1/2 cup morel mushrooms, dried, reconstituted and rough chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 small onion, diced and browned
1 tsp. lavender honey
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small pot over low heat bring the above ingredients to a simmer and allow to reduce until "sec" or nearly dry.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using.
To Serve:
  1. Place the fish over each mound of risotto.
  2. Over each fish, place a small quenelle of morel mushroom confiture before serving. Now serve the fish with the tea on the side.
  3. Once the dish has been served pour 2-4 ounces of tea into the bowl surrounding the fish and risotto.
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Blackened Wild Alaska Cod with Fennel and Orange Salad
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients and Preparation:

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Fennel and Orange Salad:
1 fennel bulb
4 oranges
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch sugar
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 (6 oz. each) wild Alaska cod fillets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Blackened seasoning or Creole spice blend, to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
Small sprigs from 1 fresh dill branch

  1. Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a bowl, whisk together until well mixed; set aside.
  2. For the salad, slice the fennel crosswise as thinly as possible, then place into a medium bowl.
  3. Cut off the top and bottom of each orange. Stand the oranges on one end; slice off the peel and white pith from top to bottom, cutting around the entire orange.
  4. Working over the fennel bowl to catch the juices, cut out each fleshy fruit segment from between the membranes on each side.
  5. Squeeze any remaining juice left from the orange pulp into the bowl; discard the pulp.
  6. Add the vinaigrette, cayenne pepper, and sugar to the fennel and orange segments. Toss gently, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
For Cod and Serving:
  1. Season cod with blackened seasoning to taste.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the fish and cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side until bronze in color and opaque throughout.
  4. On each of 6 plates, place a piece of cod. Top fish with one-sixth of the salad mixture. Garnish with chives and dill.
Makes 6 servings.

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Wild Alaska Halibut
with Mushrooms and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients and Preparation:

4 oz. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 sprig basil
1/4 cup parsley leaves
Salt, to taste
12 oz. fingerling potatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 (6 to 8 oz. each) wild Alaska halibut portions
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 shallot, chopped
8 oz. favorite mushrooms, thick-sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
2 sprigs tarragon, leaves only
1 sprig thyme, leaves only
2 lemon wedges

In a food processor, place 3 ounces of the olive oil, half of the garlic, basil and parsley. Pulse until almost smooth; set aside.

  1. Place a large (10-inch) pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add remaining olive oil; swirl to coat pan bottom. Stir in potatoes.
  3. While potatoes are browning, season the halibut with salt and red pepper flakes.
  4. Once the potatoes are a light golden brown, stir in the shallot and remaining garlic.
  5. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  6. Stir in mushrooms; season lightly with salt.
  7. Place the fish on top of the potato mixture; sprinkle on the rosemary, tarragon and thyme leaves.
  8. Reduce heat to medium, add one tablespoon of water, immediately cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.*
* Or, using an oven-proof pan and lid, place covered pan directly into a 450°F oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until fish begins to flake.

To Serve:

  1. Divide the potatoes and mushrooms between 2 warm plates.
  2. Place the fish pieces on top and drizzle liberally with the herbed oil.
  3. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each plate before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

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Lacquered Wild Alaska Salmon in Butter Lettuce Cups
with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients and Preparation:

4 oz. rice noodles, uncooked
2 cups soy sauce
3 cups sugar
1 lb. 8 oz. wild Alaska salmon fillets (skin removed), cut in 4 oz. pieces
2 cups seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 cloves, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sambal olek chili sauce
1 carrot, shredded
2 heads butter (or bibb) lettuce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium English cucumber, cut matchstick-size
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 sprigs Thai basil leaves
12 fresh mint leaves

In a stock pot, heat 1 gallon of water to a boil. Season with salt; cook noodles until tender. Pour noodles into a colander and run under cold water. Toss the cooled pasta with a small amount of oil (sesame or olive) to keep from sticking. Set aside.

For Marinade:

  1. In a sauce pot over medium heat, combine soy sauce and 2 cups of the sugar.
  2. Simmer until the sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Remove from heat; cool marinade completely.
  4. Place the salmon in a large non-reactive bowl, pour the cooled marinade over the fish and marinate for 20 minutes.
For Vietnamese Dipping Sauce:

  1. While salmon is marinating, blend the rice wine vinegar, remaining one cup of sugar, minced garlic and sambal chili sauce in a medium pot.
  2. Heat mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add the shredded carrot. Cool sauce.

For Lettuce Cups:

  1. Rinse the lettuce leaves in cold water and let dry on paper towel.
  2. Stack the leaves together, 2 or 3 high, until a sturdy cup is formed.
  3. Repeat process to form 12 cups.

For Salmon and Serving:

  1. Remove the salmon from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Add olive oil to a large heavy pan, making sure to coat the bottom evenly; heat to medium-high.
  3. Carefully place the salmon into the pan.
  4. Cook until the bottom sides reach a dark caramel color; turn fish over and continue cooking until both sides are caramelized.
  5. Remove the fish from the pan. Cool fish slightly; break up into large flakes.
  6. Layer each lettuce cup with some rice noodles, flaked fish, cucumber sticks and a spoonful of dipping sauce.
  7. Top each cup with 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, basil leaf and mint leaf.
  8. Serve with carrot sauce for dipping.

Makes 12 lettuce cups.

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Grilled Wild Alaska Cod Soft Tacos
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients and Preparation:

1 Jalapeño pepper
Salt, to taste
2 large avocados, seeded and sliced
6 sprigs fresh cilantro
3 limes
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped red onion, to taste
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb. Wild Alaska cod fillets
1 to 2 Tbsp. Creole seasoning, to taste
6 flour tortillas (8-inch size)
1 oz. olive oil, divided

For Salsa:

  1. Preheat grill or heavy pan to medium heat.
  2. Rub or brush the jalapeño with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle on salt and place on the grill or in pan.
  3. Rotate the jalapeño until it is roasted and tender on all sides. Cool slightly.
  4. Using gloves to protect from burning, peel the pepper, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds.
  5. In a food processor, add half or all of the jalapeño (if spicier is preferred), avocado, half of the cilantro and the juice of half a lime.
  6. Pulse the mixture to the desired texture (less for chunkier or more for creamy) and season with salt, to taste.
  7. Place in a bowl, cover and reserve.
  8. Clean the food processor, then add the red onion, bell pepper, green onions, canned tomato, remaining cilantro and juice of two limes.
  9. Pulse the mixture until your desired texture for salsa. Season with salt to taste.

For Cod:

  1. Slice the cod fillets crosswise into 1-inch wide strips; then place in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning, add remaining olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. Grill or pan-fry until fish is opaque throughout; remove from heat.

For Tortillas and Serving:

  1. Microwave the tortillas until warm, about 1 minute.
  2. Onto each tortilla spread 2 to 3 tablespoons avocado puree.
  3. Place cod pieces on top of avocado puree.
  4. Then top with 1/4 cup fresh salsa.
  5. Roll up or fold over the tortillas to eat.

Makes 6 tacos.

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Chef Recipes:

Wild Alaska Seafood Hobo Packs by Chef John Ash

Chipotle-Glazed Wild Alaska Salmon with Spicy Peanut Salsa by Chef Rick Bayless

Blackened Wild Alaska Cod with Fennel and Orange Salad by Chef John Besh

Wild Alaska Halibut with Mushrooms and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes by John Besh

Lacquered Wild Alaska Salmon in Butter Lettuce Cups with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce by John Besh

Grilled Wild Alaska Cod Tacos by John Besh

Pan Roasted Wild Alaska Halibut with Morel Confiture, Sweet Pea Risotto and Morel Tea by Chef John Besh

Wild Alaska Halibut with Morels and Asparagus by Michael Cimarusti

Herb and Flower-Crusted Alaska Halibut by Jesse Ziff Cool

Seared Alaska Weathervane Sea Scallops Smokey Bacon, Parsnip Puree & Mustard Veal Jus by Chef Dan Enos

Oven Roasted Stuffed Alaska Halibut by Chef Naomi Everett

Pan Roasted Wild Alaska Black Cod, Preserved Lemon Sauce, Pistachio Picada by Chef Thom Fox

Alaska Salmon and Lacinato Kale with Apple-Bacon Vinaigrette by Chef Maria Hines

Seared Weathervane Scallops with Pomegranate and Cucumber Salad by Patrick Hoogerhyde

Wild Alaska Whitefish Chowder by Chef Christine Keff

Wok Fried Whole Wild Alaska Dungeness Crab with the Three G's: Garlic, Ginger and Green Onion by Chef Brian Malarkey

Wild Alaska Halibut Veracruzana by Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

Wild Alaska King Crab Cakes with Apple, Fennel, Radish Slaw, Meyer Lemon Dressing. by Chef Ryan Nelson

Sautéed Alaska Weathervane Scallops with Citrus Salad and Avocado by Chef Ben Pollinger

Slow Roasted Wild Alaska Halibut with Potato-Mushroom Hash by Chef Barton Seaver

Wild Alaska Salmon with Black Forbidden Rice by Chef Robin Stotter

Coriander & Fennel Encrusted Wild Alaska Salmon in a Citrus Emulsion by Chef Robert Wiedmaier

Roasted Alaska Cod with Olive, Lemon & Potato Salad by Chef Jason Wilson