Now I usually take all week to dream up some creation to share with all of you on Monday, but I just could not resist this evening. Tonight was fish night, so I stopped by my friendly neighborhood fish monger, Taylor’s Lobster, and picked out a nice 1 pound portion of fresh halibut fillet.
So how did I know the fish I was buying was fresh? Let me tell you how to
make sure the fish you are buying is fresh. First look at the fillet, as a fish sits around, its flesh will of course, decay, so look at the flesh of the fish, the color will begin to fade. Salmon will become less red and vibrant, whitefish such as cod or in our case, halibut, will become more dull and faded, not the bright fresh white that you want to see. Next, if your fish monger lets you (any quality fish guy or gal will let you), ask to hold the fillet, and then smell it. It should of course smell like the sea, but it should not have any pungent aromas. Finally, touch the fish, press it with your finger, the flesh should be responsive and spring back. If your fingerprint remains, then it is not a fresh piece of fish. Now that we know the halibut I had was fresh, let me tell you how I prepared it, what I served it with, and how I BOTCHED the plating!
So take that 1 pound of beautiful fish, rinse it under cold water, pat it dry with some paper towel, take a sharp chef’s knife and divide it up into 3 portions (smoke coming from my head as I take 16 ounces and divide it by three). Squeeze some grapefruit juice (about 1 tablespoon) over the fish, and lightly salt the fish. Take a non-reactive mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel or glass, and take 1/8 of a cup of adobo sauce (just strain the entire can) from a can of chipotles (La Costena of course!), another tablespoon of grapefruit juice into the bowl, and 1 finely minced clove of garlic. Then slowly whisk in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the bowl. Now you have your basting sauce.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Brush a bit of the chipotle sauce on a baking pan, then place the halibut on top of the sauce so it will not stick to the pan. Brush a generous portion of basting sauce on top of the fish and put it in the oven. Now the general rule of thumb with fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. So my fillet is about 1 inch thick, I am going to set a timer for 5 minutes. Why am I going to set a timer for 5 minutes? Halibut is not an oily fish, so it will dry out if cooked without any type of oil or butter. So halfway through, I am going to baste the fish with the basting sauce. Wonderfully simple!
While the fish is in the oven, I am bringing about 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan for the couscous. I have added a pinch of kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of butter for health reasons. Once that comes to a boil, I stir in about 2/3 of a cup of whole wheat couscous, cover it, and remove from the heat. Just before plating, I am going to add a bit of lemon zest, then fluff the couscous with a fork.
I now hear my timer going off on the oven for the second time. I check the fish… How do we know when the fish is done? One could simply take a thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the flesh, when it reads nearly 145F, it is mere seconds from being done. Fish transitions from done to overdone VERY quickly, so I would recommend to watch it closely! I usually use a stoneware baking dish, so the dish holds a tremendous amount of heat after I pull it from the oven and my fish will continue to cook a bit out of the oven. I usually pull it just a smidge early knowing this, but I do need to work quickly. I take a rather hot sauté pan, spray it with some canola cooking spray and sauté off my baby spinach. With a hot pan, it will cook quickly, once all the spinach is nice and wilted, it is done.
So now I can tell you my story on the plating. I wanted to take a nice, haute, photo to put up here so certain eyes see it and become impressed with my plating techniques (you know who you are). But being me, Mr. A.D.D., I simply forgot to pay attention to detail. I placed a bed of sautéed Baby Spinach on the plate, took my circular food mold and scooped in my couscous. I placed a nice portion of fish on top of the bed of couscous, garnished it with a sprig of cilantro and a slice of lime and called it a day! DOH! Once I took the photo and dined on the fish, I rememebered that I had a bit of chipotle basting sauce left that I was going to drizzle around the fish! Yet another lesson learned!
So now after about no more than 30 minutes, we have supper! Open up a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio (I like The Houge from the Yakima Valley for halibut) and pour a glass for you and your significant other! I hope you enjoy this recipe!