Come summer, I grab a stack of grilling books and magazines and leave them by our chairs in the sunroom, rotating them every few weeks so we have new things to consider as the summer moves along, the heat builds, and the kitchen is used less and less. (I have a horrifically hot range–wonderful in the winter and a bear in the summer.)
Thinking about the Alaskan fish that had surprising arrived in my meat order from a local Colorado ranch last Saturday (I’ll identify later if the meat is good!), I grabbed a favorite from 2016: WILLIAMS-SONOMA GRILL SCHOOL by the well-known and trustworthy authors Andrew Schloss and David Joachim to see what I could find about halibut.
While the recipes in GRILL SCHOOL are thoughtfully delicious and not run-of-the-mill in any way, this book, while not encyclopedic, is also a place you can look something up—like, “Gee, how do you grill shrimp?” You’ll not only find a shrimp recipe you’ll probably make, but there’s just enough basic and background info to make sure you know what you’re doing all while increasing your grill power. Don’t know much about building a fire or what kind of grill to buy? That sort of thing is included, too. Now, of course you can run and get something on the internet, but you will have no idea of the quality of information. (And where are all those 8 1/2 x 11 pages going anyway?) Nor will you have a large amount of info and lots of recipes all in once central place — with lovely photos. That’s what a well-written and photographed book will do for you. (Educational, artistic photos for GRILL SCHOOL are by Ray Kachatorian.) You can trust it. Googling shrimp gets you 295,000,000 results. And who knows — a few are from your neighbor, right? That neighbor. Or a junior high kid in home ec (family and consumer science) class. You get the idea. Excellent information is often not free. So Andrew Schloss and David Joachim didn’t hire me here, but I’d recommend this book for your shelf–whether you have other grill books or if this is the only one you’ll ever have. Leave it by your bedside over the dreaming winter and see if it’s not a bit cozier than your iPad.
GRILL SCHOOL’S halibut recipe was for an escabéche–a summery Spanish dish where typically the quickly grilled food (could be fish or vegetables) is covered in a spicy marinade, left in the refrigerator overnight, and eaten cold or at room temperature the next day. While I liked the sound of that, I needed dinner that night, wanted hot fish, so took the basic recipe and switched it up to suit my needs and to include vegetables. If you’re going to light the grill, you might as well grill everything you can.
THAWING FROZEN FISH QUICKLY: Since my fish was frozen solid in cryopac, I put it in a big bowl full of cold water with a cast iron sauce pan on top that I also filled with water. The fillets were just about thawed in 15 minutes. The safest method for thawing fish, poultry, or meat is always to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Let’s face it, many of us aren’t that organized. Do watch your thawing protein carefully and change the cold water every half hour if you’re thawing a whole chicken or a big beef roast, for instance.
The plan for getting dinner on the table is easy and fast. The fish is done so quickly, so everything else should be made and in place before you grill it. Fish is the original “fast food.”
- Start the grill. Set the table. Open the wine, but keep it cold. Pat dry the fish and season it with salt and pepper. Let rest briefly.
- Make the sauce and set it on the table.
- Grill the vegetables. Place on a platter on the table.
- Grill the fish–about 4 minutes total. Plate the fish, add the vegetables, and spoon the sauce over all.
- Eat while warm, but don’t worry if it’s at room temperature– it’ll still be great.
- Enjoy your evening. You made fish!
Here’s how I did it:
spicy citrus halibut with asparagus
- 2 halibut fillets-6-8 ounces each – or any similar weight white fish fillets
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- ½ pound asparagus, trimmed
- Olive oil
- Canola oil–for the grill
- Citrus sauce–recipe below in NOTES
- Heat the grill for medium-high direct heat. (425 – 450 degrees F)
- Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides; set aside briefly.
- On a small rimmed sheet pan, or in a bowl, sprinkle the asparagus with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss well. Set aside.
- Brush the grill with canola oil using a wad of paper towels or a cotton towel dipped in the oil.
- Place la plancha (a metal flattop griddle) on the grill.
- Grill the asparagus on the grill grates themselves, turning once or twice, for about 5 minutes or until tender and blackened in a few places. Remove to a platter and set on table.
- Brush la plancha with oil. Place the fish on la plancha, cover the grill, and cook 2 minutes; flip carefully and cook another two minutes or until fish is opaque, but still moist.
- Remove fish fillets to the serving plates and add asparagus at the side. Spoon sauce over all and eat while hot or warm.
I had the ingredients for a beet, fennel, and goat cheese salad and we had that along with some grilled bread. The bread alone was probably enough unless you’re starved!
Wine: Had no Sauvignon Blanc (my first choice), so poured a totally chilled French White Burgundy. Maybe a better choice since we drank it with the salad and the fish. We buy our wine (with the exception of wine that comes directly from the vineyard) from the wineshop just down the street, STEINS AND VINES. For this burgundy, I called the manager and said, “I want half a case decent White Burgundy along with 3 red Rhone and 3 Chiantis of your choice under $XX.” Perfection and we’re all set. No need to try and figure out which wines to buy. Trust your local wine shop. You can probably drive up and they’ll bring it out to the car. Or see if they’ll deliver and you’re only out the tip for the driver!
LIFE GOES ON…
Be well. Cook for yourself and maybe a neighbor or two. Leave something sweet on someone’s front porch and send them a text. While the fabric of our culture appears to be fraying, we can be who we need to be for one another. I promise we can. Be brave.
Wishing you love,