I prepare delicate white fish (halibut, plaice, Dover sole ) from time to time, in a Southern French style.
3 red ripe tomatoes or cherry if you prefer
1 glass white wine
6 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
chopped finely fresh parsley to taste
1 large bay leaf
2 small garlic cloves finely sliced
1 tablespoon of capers rinsed of brine
some fresh snipped chives or green scallion.
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds. Peel and slice the tomatoes. Squeeze out the seeds and set aside.
In a deep sarten, add the Evoo preferably Provençal or Italian Evoo and: add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. With a wooden spatula, slowly and gently move in one direction.
Sauté until all is tender. Season and add the fish. Sprinkle the fresh herbs and lemon zest. Capers and scallion or chives place last on top of the fish.
Cover with a glass top and steam for approx 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Do not over cook this sublime fish.
Serve with a Prosecco or Cava or Champagne or a delicate still white wine of choice.
Serve with green asparagus or artichokes on a separate dish …
Halibut is one of our favorites but it is equally pricey here in Boston (~$25/lb). We’re not usually motivated by price but when we do splurge (or when Whole Foods discounts it to ~$20/lb) we hope that the costs are paid forward to the fishermen/women. I am always cynical about that. But we’re frugal in almost every other aspect of our lives (Spring Onion excepted)…we’re grateful that we are ok with spending a lot of our household budget on good food, wine, and beer.
Anyway…I love slow-roasted halibut in an olive oil bath. We also love it with flavor-forward sauces, such as a tomatillo salsa (a la Rick Bayless) that we used tonight for a different but similarly firm white fish (swordfish; not the most ecologically friendly and high in mercury so we only eat 1-2 times a year). @GretchenS suggestion of mustard-roasting it is an awesome idea, too. I know it’s not fatty but I find it’s forgiving if you cook low and slow. I personally almost never cook halibut on the stovetop, deferring to the oven. I’m not a precise enough cook to sear it/pan cook it.
I think the only time I really liked it was when I seared some Copper River salmon (and this is going back more than 20 years). Maybe I’ve only had not-great salmon, but as sushi, it’s always flabby. Grilled or baked, too fatty. Poached is okay, I guess.
BTW, I initially threatened husband with sous vide (he doesn’t like thing’s that might be described as “tender”), but a search did not immediately find something in time for dinner. Anyone sous vide-ing their white fish?
I’ve sous-vided mackerel, black cod, and (frozen) branzino. The mackerel and black cod were really good after a half hour at 116F, but on another try I squeezed some lemon on the mackerel before sealing, and I think the acid dissolved some of the flesh into mush. The branzino just didn’t work at 116F, but another try at around 138 worked out fine.
Sous-vide is also my usual method for salmon, again at 116F. I can’t afford halibut these days.
I can’t handle salmon cooked. Barely poached, either liquid or parchment, almost okay as long as it is very rare. I love raw salmon in ceviches.
I do (what I think is) a fabulous Frenchified sushi. Sushi rice topped with raw (pre-frozen to kill parasites) diced salmon, then a shower of fresh dill, capers, chopped cornichon, lemon. Serve in small bowls with cocktail fork.