All across the Northern Hemisphere, spring is a time of delicious anticipation. In the Great Lakes region, where the winters are long and cold, morels and asparagus are signature delicacies that celebrate the coming bounty of summer. This authentically regional combination is the perfect complement to the sweet mild flavor and delicate texture of whitefish from Lake Superior. Among the most delicious of the wild mushrooms, morels may be difficult to come by, but they are worth the effort and expense. The Northwest has a bountiful harvest each spring that finds its way into the gourmet food shops and better supermarkets across the country.
1/2 pound fresh morels or the other wild mushrooms or 1 to 2 ounces dried morels or other wild mushrooms, washed and soaked in hot water 30 minutes
1 pound young, thin asparagus
4 tablespoons - canola oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup fish stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 (6-ounce) fillets of whitefish, skin on salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Clean the morels carefully, washing them under cold water, then laying them out on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture and air dry. Trim the asparagus stems at the point where a knife slices through easily. If the skin seems at all tough or stringy, peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.
In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. Add the morels and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shallots and cook 3 minutes more. Add the fish stock and allow the morels to braise 2 to 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and the white wine and continue to cook another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and place on a warm platter and set aside.
Season the fish with salt and pepper . Heat the remaining canola oil in a second heavy skillet. Sauté the fillets 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side, and remove to the platter holding the asparagus.
Return the morels to the sauté pan to heat to the boiling point. Add the thyme and butter. Remove promptly from the heat and allow the butter ( which adds a creamy texture to the dish) to melt. Spoon over the fish and serve promptly.