Tuesday, March 1, 2011

'Fresh' From The Sea

Good evening everyone! Tonight, we're debuting a new dish for the blog - one of my all time favorite fish dishes. Halibut. I still remember the first time I had halibut, it was freshly caught from the Alaskan sea. Every bit burst with flavor. Tender, juicy, almost chicken like flavor. I had never had such a delicious cut of fish. And, sadly, since I live in the midwest, I have yet to experience that taste again. It seems fresh caught Alaskan halibut is hard to come by when you live thousands of miles away from the ocean. Who knew?

Sort of an ugly guy...

The second pic is much more appetizing 

Tonight we're trying the closest substitute we could find. Our local Hy-Vee sells 'flash frozen' halibut steaks, which are supposed to be frozen almost immediately after they are sliced. In theory, this should yield a delicious cut of halibut comparable to the 'fresh from the ocean' variety. By cooking the halibut via skillet & oven, it should minimize outside flavors and allow the natural taste of the halibut to shine. Again, this is all in theory. Did my theory hold up? Let's find out:

The Recipe: Pan-Roasted Halibut
Original Recipe Found In: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: Every Recipe from the Hit TV Show With Product Ratings and a Look Behind the Scenes, 2001-2011

What You'll Need:

2 X Halibut Steaks (3/4 Inch to 1 Inch Thick)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Vinaigrette, Flavored Butter Or Lemon Juice (For Sauce)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Adjust the rack to the middle position.

Begin by patting the halibut steaks dry with paper towels. The drier the better in this situation as you're going to be frying the steaks in oil and any moisture still in the halibut will leak into the oil and that will cause a whole lot of splashing, hot, burn inducing oil. Take caution prior and pat them dry now. Your arms and hands will thank you later!

Next, season each side of the steaks with a generous helping of salt and pepper. Now, if you really want to impress someone, here's a little tip for getting a beautiful golden brown crust on the halibut. On one side of the halibut steak, season with a pinch of sugar. Not a whole lot - you're not making candied fish here - but just enough to visible. When you place the steaks into the skillet, place the sugar side down. The sugar will caramelize, causing a beautiful brown crust that took next to no time at all!

In an oven safe skillet, add the olive oil and heat until just smoking. Once smoking, add the halibut steaks (sugar side down if you're using the 'cheat') and cook for 4 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Don't disturb, nudge, peek or otherwise poke the steaks during this cooking time. Like any pan frying technique, the key here is to let the steak rest and let the heat and oil do all of the work. Nudging the fillet will throw off your browning as well and you don't want that to happen!

Once the steaks have browned nicely, remove the skillet from the heat and flip the steaks over. Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the steaks register 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Right before you stick the steaks into the oven, feel free to add a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of lime juice, or another herb/seasoning combination you desire. This extra little touch can infuse a little more flavor into the steaks.

Once the steaks are at 140 degrees, serve and enjoy. There are many white fish friendly sauces available, feel free to prepare any combination you desire to top off the fish. However, halibut has its own great flavor, so you don't really HAVE to make a sauce. We served ours with a simple side of lemon juice.

The Results:

Halibut is still my favorite cut of fish. Although it is expensive, the extra cost for all of the great flavor the fish provides is worth it in my opinion. We kept tonight's recipe simple by adding only lemon juice to the fish. This was to allow the natural flavor to shine and to set up a stage for future recipes. I have a breaded halibut recipe and a pan sauce that I want to try - however, my favorite form of halibut is the 'naked' version we made tonight. Great flavor, great texture, great dish. Well worth a shot for those tired of tilapia and all carped out.

Apologies for the lack of photos tonight. The camera died...again, and now it is refusing to sync the photos it holds....grr.

That's all we have for you tonight. Nothing like a nice, easy (and delicious) dish to get the week started off right. In the future, we'll expand on the pan frying recipe and add sauces, breadings and all sorts of other adventures. Stay tuned for that!

Maggie takes back to the kitchen for the first time in two weeks tomorrow night, so be sure to stop in then to see her first dish sans-gallbladder. Until then,


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