Luckily, I don't have to buy fish from someone who refuses to eat it. Carl from New Deal is always ready with a recipe he concocted a few days ago or just general advice on what to do with each fish. Sammy and I stopped by his store last week. I don't get to go as often as I used to these days since my schedule is a bit unpredictable, so each trip is a special treat. So many things looked tempting, I was at a loss. The striper was gorgeous, and there was a whole monk tail, and fatty tuna, and whole branzino... The sparkling whole fish and fillets went on and on. But when Carl told me about what he made for dinner the other night, the deal was sealed. He seared halibut in olive oil, then sautéed sliced onions in the same pan, deglazed the pan with white wine, added the ripest local tomatoes he could find and some garlic, and finished the fish by returning it to the pan, covering, and steaming for a few minutes. I was salivating before he even finished with a sprinkle of basil. I got a gorgeous, thick halibut fillet and using his recipe for inspiration, concocted my own "best of New England summer" dish.
I kept the seared halibut, onions, tomatoes, garlic and basil, but substituted the wine and last minute steaming with thinly sliced and crisped potatoes.
Seared Halibut with Potatoes and Tomatoes
Fish substitutions: striped bass, swordfish, mahi-mahi, cod, haddock, sable, and any thick white or cream colored fillets
2 halibut fillets without skin (6 oz each)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large red skinned potatoes, peeled, and sliced thinly with a mandoline
1/2 cup red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
Chopped basil for garnish
Special equipment: cast iron skillet or oven proof non-stick skillet
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Dry halibut fillet really well on paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Set a cast iron or oven proof non-stick skillet over high heat. When hot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and wait for it to shimmer. Add the halibut and cook until browned on the first side, 2 minutes. Flip and cook another minute. Take the halibut out of the pan and reserve. Take the pan off heat.
- Add onions, potatoes, garlic, and remaining tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper, mix with tongs and arrange into an even layer. Arrange tomato slices over potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and dot with butter. Roast in the middle of the oven for 18-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned on the bottom. Don't be afraid to burn them. The crispy edges are the best part.
- Add the halibut on top of tomatoes and return to the oven for 4 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, separate the flakes with a fork and look inside. Halibut is done when it is still a bit translucent inside. It will become opaque as it rests. Err on the side of under-cooking as halibut dries out easily.
- Sprinkle with basil and serve.