PUBLISHED: 4:40 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Alaskan chefs sizzle at seafood cook-off
Stefani Marnon and Naomi Everett represented Alaska at the fourth-annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. The two were among a group of chefs from across the nation who gathered in New Orleans to vie for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood at the competition this weekend at the Louisiana Foodservice Expo.

Although Chef Tim Thomas of Georgia took home the crown as this year's King of Seafood, the team from Alaska did represent their coastal state well. The cook-off is designed to bring about awareness of domestic seafood use and each chef is challenged to create a dish with indigenous to his or her home state.

Courtesy photo
  Chef Stephanie Marnon in action in Louisiana at the cook-off.
The team selected wild Alaskan halibut as the star of their dish.

"The Great American Seafood Cook-Off has grown in popularity each year and we're thrilled to be a part of this meaningful event," said Bill Hogarth of NOAA. "Through their participation, each of these chefs helped raise awareness of the importance of cooking with domestic seafood and sustainable fisheries."

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska chose this veteran team to represent Alaska in the 2007 National Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans, La. Everett was born and raised in Anchorage and currently resides there. She is currently an instructor with the University of Alaska, culinary arts and hospitality program. A native New Yorker, Marnon now lives in Alaska's capital city of Juneau. She served three Alaska governors as executive residence chef, including Palin.

Event sponsors included NOAA, Shell Oil, Tabasco, Southwest Cargo, Whole Foods Market, Old Bay, Wild American Shrimp, National Fisheries Institute, Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Texas Shrimp, Maryland Seafood, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Coastal Living Magazine, Seafood Business Magazine, Wild Catch Magazine, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, Culinary Concierge Magazine, Loubat Food Service Equipment, Savvy Gourmet, Louisiana Restaurant Association and Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

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Wild Alaskan Halibut Cheeks with lox salad, stuffed tomatoes and Romesco sauce

Halibut cheeks

8 ea 6-8oz fresh Alaskan Halibut cheeks

4 Tbsp. olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Have a lightly oiled sheet pan ready to place seared halibut cheeks on.

Pat dry and season all sides of the halibut cheeks with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, bring enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan to just a smoke.

Add halibut cheeks to the pan and sear on each side until golden brown.

Transfer to oiled sheet pan.

Once all of the halibut has been browned, place in hot oven for 3 to 4 minutes more, in order to finish cooking.

Romesco Sauce

1 ea 12oz can fire roasted tomatoes

10 ea whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup smoked almonds

1 cup roasted red peppers

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. salt

In a food processor, pulse garlic and almonds until finely chopped.

Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture forms a rough paste.

Refrigerate until service.

Lox salad

3 oz. smoked Alaska halibut lox, rough chopped

3 oz. smoked Alaska salmon lox, rough chopped

1&½ tsp. shallot, minced

1 Tbsp. capers, minced

1 Tbsp. dill, minced

1 tsp. chives, minced

3 Tbsp. lemon oil

salt & pepper to taste

12 ea cherry tomatoes, ¼th" of tops and seeds removed & discarded, to form "cups"

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a bowl. Season well.

Take lox salad and gently stuff each tomato cup.

Refrigerate until service.

Arugula salad

½ ea juice of lemon

1 tsp. dijon mustard

4 Tbsp. olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

1-½ pound baby arugula, rinsed & dried

Lemon Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well.

Refrigerate until service.

To Assemble:

While halibut is cooking, toss arugula with vinaigrette and place on plate.

Remove halibut from the oven and allow to rest 2 to 3 minutes, arrange on top of salad.

Place 3 stuffed tomatoes on the back side of the halibut cheeks and spoon romesco sauce over the front of the halibut. Serve immediately.