When halibut is in season, I can’t get enough. Roasted, pan seared or poached — it’s all good.
One of my favourite ways to serve halibut is poached in a classic fish broth enriched with a bit of butter. If you’ve got compound butter on hand, even better.
The simplicity of the dish requires the freshest of fish, homemade stock and garden fresh vegetables. Nothing else will do. This recipe originally appeared in EAT Magazine May/June 2011.
■ 2 pounds fresh halibut, skin removed and cut into four portions
■ 3 shallots, diced
■ 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided in half
■ 1/2 cup dry white wine
■ 6 cups home-made halibut stock
■ 1 sprig thyme
■ 1 – 2 Thai chili peppers, seeds removed
■ salt and pepper, to taste
■ 12 ounces fresh green beans, topped, tailed and blanched*
■ 3/4 cup fresh peas blanched* or frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
■ 1 tablespoon butter, for the blanched vegetables
■ fresh dill or fennel sprigs for garnish
In a wide, straight-sided saucepan, deep enough to poach the halibut, saute the shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter until translucent. Increase the heat and add the white wine; cook until the wine has evaporated and almost no liquid remains. Add the fish stock, thyme and chili pepper(s) and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer (not a boil).
Generously season the halibut pieces with salt and pepper and add them to the simmering stock; the liquid should cover at least three-quarters of the halibut (the top portion of the halibut will be steamed). Poach, loosely covered, for about 7 minutes. To test the fish for doneness, make a small slit with a paring knife in the thickest part of the fillet; all but the center of each piece should be opaque. Remove the fish before it is completely cooked through. The residual heat will continue cooking the fish. Transfer the fish to warmed soup bowls and tent with foil.
In a small pan, briefly saute the blanched vegetables in 1 tablespoon of butter to warm them through. Season with salt, if necessary.
Pour the stock around the poached halibut and add the warmed vegetables. Garnish with fresh dill or fennel sprigs.
* To blanch vegetables, fill a large pot with generously salted water (about 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt for every 8 cups of water). Bring the water to a boil and add the vegetables, one variety at a time, and cook just tender but still firm. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water to prevent further cooking. Drain the vegetables.
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