Pan Roasted Halibut with Tomato-Panzanella Salad & Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc Sauce

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    Since I caught that 106 lb. halibut a few weeks ago I have been looking for new ways to eat halibut. This recipe was somewhat of a departure for me––normally I keep it simple and sweet but this one tempted me. I took the bait and was hooked on the first bite. Who wouldn’t with all that butter!? While it’s not hard to do this one, it’s not as simple as a little salt and pepper either. Still, I highly recommend it. I used this recipe from Stella Culinary as a guide. Since this recipe is done to taste, it’s really helpful to use the videos as a guide. There are a few things you can do way ahead of time to take the pressure off and actually improve the flavor. Make the tomato salad and the pickled red onions 24 hours ahead. You can also brine the halibut as much as 24 hours ahead but even 2 hours ahead does the job. This is a delicious and extremely rich meal so small portions are a good idea. I did 8 oz per person and it was way too much. I’ll do 4-6 oz. per person next time. Here is the intro video.

    Serves: 2

    Ingredients for tomato panzanella salad:

    • Clarified butter, canola oil 50/50 mix (You can buy it or do it yourself. Learn how here.)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Cherry tomatoes cut in half the long way
    • Pickled red onions (see recipe below).
    • Lemons cut in half
    • Fish sauce
    • French or white bread
    • Sugar

    Directions for tomato panzanella salad:

    Make the tomato portion of this salad (which includes the pickled onions) 24 hours ahead. Done to taste. Pickling liquid is made with the following ingredients: 1 c rice wine vinegar, 1/2 c water, 1/2 cup sweet white wine, 1 1/4 T salt, 1 1/4 T sugar. Warm all together in saucepan over medium heat, then cool and add onions.

    1. Combine 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes cut lengthwise with about 1/2 cup pickled red onions.
    2. pour in a splash of the pickling liquid.
    3. Splash in some fish sauce (perhaps a few tablespoons).
    4. Add a teaspoon of salt (to taste)
    5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
    6. Add about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

    Once the tomato salad is done, or if you are pulling it out of the fridge from the night before, you only need to cook the bread and add it to finish this panzanella.

    1. Head a skillet over medium high heat.
    2. Add chopped bread (1-1 1/2 inch cubes work) and stir until golden brown.
    3. Add the hot bread to the tomato salad when the halibut comes out of the oven and the sauce is about ready. Otherwise the bread will get soggy.

    Ingredients for beurre blanc sauce and halibut:

    • Clarified butter, canola oil 50/50 mix (You can buy it or do it yourself. Learn how here.)
    • Capers
    • Thinly sliced shallots
    • Unsalted butter
    • Two 8 oz. piece of skinless halibut
    • White wine

    Directions for halibut:

    1. Halibut should be thawed in package. Remove from package, rinse once under cold tap water. If skinned, remove skin.
    2. Place uncut, whole piece of halibut in a 5% saltwater brine for 2-24 hours. This allows the salt flavor to evenly distribute within the fish. Make a 5% saltwater solution but adding one gallon of water to 1 cup of kosher, non-iodized salt.
    3. When the halibut is done brining, remove from brine, rinse once under a cold tap and cut into 8 oz. portions. Here is a video on how to do all this.
    4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
    5. Heat a small heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron over medium/high heat.
    6. Cover bottom with a thin later the clarified butter/canola oil mix and let heat for a moment.
    7. Add one piece of fish per skillet with the fat (formerly skin) side up. Each piece of fish needs it own small skillet. The skillet should barely fit the fish so it browns properly. Here is a video on how to cook the fish.
    8. Cook on range for a few minutes or until there is a golden brown ring around the edge of the fish that is contacting the pan.
    9. When you see that golden brown ring, place the skillets in the preheated 500 deg oven for about 5-8 minutes. When you squeeze the sizes of the fish it should spring back and feel firm.
    10. carefully get under the fish with a spatula from the side (not from the end grain) and place golden brown side up on an empty plate.

    Directions for beurre blanc sauce:

    The sauce is the trickiest part of this recipe. My sauce “broke” so I sifted in some flour to bring it back to life. It wasn’t perfect but it tasted great anyway. Apparently these sauces break because the wine, onion mixture isn’t reduced sufficiently–it should be almost totally dry. This video shows how to make the sauce.

    1. Place a heavy bottomed sauce pan to a medium high burner and allow the pan to heat.
    2. cover bottom with clarified butter canola oil mix.
    3. When oil is hot, add about a 1/4-1/2 cup sliced shallots.
    4. Cook for a minute or two to soften but not brown.
    5. Add about 1/2 cup white wine and add the juice of 1 lemon.
    6. Reduce to almost “dry–” Almost no liquid.
    7. Add 1/2 cup unsalted butter one thick pad at a time, stirring constantly.
    8. Add capers.
    9. When butter is almost melted, remove from heat and keep stirring.
    10. The sauce shouldn’t look greasy or watery, it should be thick and whitish.

    Assembling the Plate:

    1. Everything goes together relatively quickly so in the right hands, everything can be made at the same time so it’s all hot when it goes together.
    2. When the halibut goes into the oven, you should be starting to cook the bread. When the halibut comes out of the oven, you should be adding the bread to the tomatoes to complete the panzanella salad.
    3. Form a mound of the salad in the center of a plate, carefully place the cooked halibut piece on top.
    4. Pour a few tablespoons of sauce over the fish and salad and serve.


    August 31st, 2014 | Traveler | No Comments | Tags: , , ,

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