Halibut is know to be a favorite fish among fish lovers and recognized for its high nutritional value and delicate sweet firm white meat. Comparable in flavor and a family member of the smaller flounder, it creates a perfect plate for a colorful ragout. If you can't locate halibut, branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) or locally caught black or striped sea bass are equally good and are interchangeable in this recipe.
Flounder, sole and tilapia are other substitutes but because they are much thinner and smaller in size cooking time would have to be adjusted.
A “ragout” is basically a vegetable stew. Distinctive flavors of fresh tomatoes, wine, briny olives and capers, garlic and herb seasoning flatter the subtle taste of a white meat fish. This is a simple recipe to make on a week night but can embrace a special-occasion dinner as well.
The ragout can be made ahead and gently heated while you prepare the fish. The salad can be washed and spun dried and the dressing can be made in the salad bowl and stored in the fridge until ready to toss it together for serving. Here are the recipes:
4 (7 to 8-ounce) 3/4-inch thick halibut fillets, branzino or sea bass fillets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup flour for dredging
5 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 cup dry white wine
4 small green olives or Kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1-1/2 teaspoons capers, drained and minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Mince the tomatoes along with their juices and place in a bowl until ready to use. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spread the flour on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper then dredge it lightly in the flour on both sides shaking off the excess flour. Place in the hot oil in the skillet and cook until golden on both sides and just opaque in the center; 6 to 7 minutes. Using a large spatula, carefully transfer the fish to a heatproof platter or individual heatproof plates and place in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
In the same skillet over high heat add the wine and stir until it is reduced by half. Add the olives, capers, garlic, tomatoes and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper keeping in mind that the olives and capers are already salty. Cook on high heat, stirring until the sauce thickens slightly; about 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning then spoon sauce over the fish, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Makes 4 generous servings
Serve alone with a bitter green salad or with fluffy mashed potatoes, cooked rice, couscous or quinoa.
Bitter Green Salad
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch (1/8 teaspoon) pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced or 2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups baby arugula
1 head radicchio, torn into pieces
Squeeze lemon juice into a large salad bowl. Add the minced shallot or garlic, salt and pepper then whisk until emulsified (combining two liquids together which normally don't mix easily). Gradually add the olive oil, whisking to create a smooth dressing.
Add the rinsed and spun dry arugula and radicchio and toss to coast with the dressing. Makes 6 servings
Buon Appetito from Amelia's Kitchen
Questions and comments are always welcome and appreciated.