FRIDAY FISH: Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa

Shown here with Red Onion-Oregano Potatoes and Cheesy Green beans.

For Hot Cross Buns and Easter brunch ideas, scroll down to bottom under LIFE GOES ON.

No matter what kind of fish or seafood you’re cooking, there are two basic secrets to its success. #1 Don’t overcook it. #2 You need a great sauce. I mean, think about it. Even everyday sorts of fish or seafood like fried shrimp or fish and chips come with a sauce you just have to have: cocktail sauce for the shrimp and tartar sauce for the fish. Right? This is also true of fish cooked by chefs in upscale restaurants, though the sauces may (or may not) be a tish more sophisticated. Sometimes butter and/or lemon are all that’s called for, as in Sole Meunière, which is not much more than thin and floured sole fillets cooked in–yes– butter and lemon, then sprinkled with, what else? Parsley. Simple is as simple does. And the dish has been top drawer famous forever! No matter the fish, it is often the sauce that counts.

That’s especially true in my quick Friday Fish for this week, Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa. Everyone knows pico de gallo and other sorts of Mexican salsas often made with cilantro and jalapeños, but a fresh tomato salsa (salsa only means “sauce”) without those two ingredients and with sweet peppers, tiny ripe tomatoes, parsley, green onions, and lemon, orange, or lime is something different. That difference is smile-worthy because instead of being overwhelmed by large-scale flavors, this mild fillet is enhanced and freshly seasoned by what is almost a baby salad garnish — which takes the dish over the top to my tastebuds.

Follow along through the photos below, read the recipe, make your shopping list, get to the store, and try this:

FRIDAY FISH: Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa

If serving with the roasted potatoes and green beans (see notes), make those first as the fish is done quickly.
Serves 2 — recipe doubles or triples easily

Ingredients

Salsa:

  • 10 cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 2 scallions, white and dark parts – sliced thinly on the bias
  • 1 small plump clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons EACH sweet bell pepper, orange or yellow chopped into small dice and minced parsley
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • One good squeeze of lime, lemon, or orange juice (slice rest of citrus and serve a wedge with the fish)

Halibut:

  • 1 tablespoon EACH olive oil and salted butter
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 (6-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed, patted dry with paper towels

Instructions

  • MAKE SALSA: Stir together the salsa ingredients in a small bowl, taste for seasonings, and set aside.
  • COOK FISH: Heat the oil, butter, and crushed red pepper in a medium flat heavy skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted and bubbling. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish, patting spices in with your fingers, and add to the skillet an inch or two apart. Let cook 3 minutes until browned; turn and cook the other side, 2-3 more minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook another minute or two OR until fish is nearly firm, opaque, but still moist. (If your fillets are thin, it will take less time. If they're thick, you'll need a bit more time. Fish will continue to cook after taken off the heat, so less is better.)
  • SERVE FISH WITH SALSA: Place each fillet on a plate and top generously with the reserved salsa. Serve hot or warm with a reserved wedge of lemon, lime, or orange along with Red Onion-Oregano Potatoes and Cheesy Green Beans, if desired. (Directions in notes.)

Notes

NOTES: RED ONION-OREGANO POTATOES RECIPE: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cook spray or brush with oil. In a large bowl, toss together 3/4-pound baby potatoes (cut in half since mine were a tish big), 1 sliced medium red onion, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Turn out onto the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly, turning cut sides of potatoes down. Roast about 25 minutes or until browned and tender, turning once during the roasting time. CHEESY GREEN BEANS are only green beans (in this case haricots verts, the French-style skinny green beans) cooked until tender in a large pot of well-salted and peppered water, drained, returned to pot, and seasoned with a little butter, more salt and pepper, along with a good sprinkle of grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2022. All rights reserved.

SO HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG TO COOK FISH?????

The Canadian Rule is a great help. Just measure your fillet, steak or whole fish at the thickest part and follow the rule (10 minutes per inch or 5 minutes per side per inch). If you’re baking a fish fillet, fold the thinner tail section under or the belly flaps over to keep a uniform thickness and bake at 400°. Check it at around 8 minutes gently with a knife to check for doneness. The fish should be barely opaque in the center and cooked until the translucent appearance if almost gone. The same is true for grilling fish steaks or fillets, but remember the rule changes to 5 minutes per side. If you use an instaread meat thermometer, the ideal internal temperature should be just under 125°.

Sometimes the fish will be a bit under 10 minutes, sometimes just a bit over, but remember that it keeps cooking after it’s removed from heat, so a little rare is ok.

courtesy Monahan's Seafood Market, Ann Arbor, MI

If you haven’t done it yet, it’s time to watch “Chocolat,” a quintessential film for Lent.
Want to make the Red Onion- Oregano Potatoes shown with the fish? See NOTES in the recipe.

TIPS:

How to Tell When Fish is Truly Cooked-Molly Stevens/FINECOOKING

How to Cook Fish Fillets Perfectly/BONAPPETIT

How to Save on Seafood at the Grocery Store/SPRUCE

Make some other More Time at the Table fish/seafood recipes. Just type Friday Fish or Fish and Seafood into the search box. Or use a specific name such as Salmon or Shrimp.

Try these recipes from Monahan’s Seafood Market.

Best Seafood Cookbook(s) (From Classic to Contemporary)/COCKLESNMUSSELS

I keep these dependable, though not new books nearby: FISH & SHELLFISH: THE COOK’S INDISPENSABLE COMPANION by James Peterson and SEAFOOD COOKERY by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller.


If you liked this, you might also like these similar fish recipes:

Oven-Roasted Rosemary Halibut with Fresh Tomato-Zucchini Sauce or my

Salmon and Fresh Tomato Salsa on Garlicky Cauliflower Mash…



in which Lurky Turkey returns to our yard this week…
Next Sunday, April 10, 2022, is Palm Sunday, which means there’s one more week of Friday Fish this year.

LIFE GOES ON:

photo (Palm Sundae) courtesy Episcopal Church Memes

If you’d like to make Hot Cross Buns next week, try this BBC recipe by Paul Hollywood. It’s my favorite.

Thinking Easter brunch for a crowd? Make my Easy Sheet Pan Quiche.

Thanks for making it nearly all the way through Friday Fish for this year! I appreciate you spending some of your precious time with me in the kitchen. It makes a big difference in my life, gives me hope, and keeps me cooking.

Many thanks to our dear friends, Lee and Pam Lehmkuhl, for bringing us the yummy halibut from Alaska!

Stay well and warm (there’s a wicked cold wind here today),

Alyce

Leave a Reply