Living in the Pacific Northwest has so many culinary perks! Foods are truly seasonal and one becomes acutely aware of what’s in season through each market trip. Halibut season opened here on March 14th and it was a big deal. Restaurants, markets, and even big chain grocery stores announced the start of the season. We were at a restaurant the evening of March 14th and the owner walked in an announced that it was the start of the season and proudly held up the huge fresh halibut he had just obtained!
I love the practice of seasonal eating that seems so natural here in the Pacific Northwest. I try my best to eat in season, and this is by far the easiest place to do this of any I have lived. Each new season brings fun changes to our diet, which I try to highlight to my Diverse Little Eater. We currently await our local strawberry and asparagus season, but for now we have plenty of halibut! Lucky for us, my parents were visiting during the opening of halibut season. Grandpa (my Dad) is an amazing cook and one of the reasons I now have such a strong interest in food and healthy eating.
He and I headed to our local fishmonger and purchased a nice fresh piece of pacific halibut, and Grandpa cooked it up for us! I’m posting his recipe below for pan-cooked halibut – delicious, simple, and fresh! Diverse Little Eater’s response between bites… “MMmmmm, very good Grandpa!”
- Fresh halibut (cut into individually-sized pieces, we cut a 1.8lb piece into 5)
- Paprika (not smoked)
- Olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Ginger (~1 inch chunk)
- Shallot (1 bulb)
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 1 cup of water
- Cut the fish into the appropriately-sized pieces (based on the number of people you’re feeding) and sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, and paprika (to your taste).
- Mince the garlic, ginger, and shallot and set aside.
- Put the pan on high heat until it is hot, then turn the flame down to medium. Pour a tbsp of olive oil into the pan and spread to coat. Add one pat of butter to the pan (~1 tbsp), when it begins to spread and melt, add the fish. (Note: using a non-stick pan for this dish can make it easier, but will not create as many brown bits in the bottom of the pan for the flavorful sauce).
- If the fish is an inch or more thick, leave it on the first side for 3 minutes. If it is less than half an inch thick, leave it for 30 seconds to one minute more before flipping. When each respective piece of fish is ready, flip it over and cook the other side. Once flipped, set the timer (3 minutes for thicker fish, 2 for a thinner piece).
- Add the garlic, ginger, shallot mixture to the pan in the oil surrounding the fish and continue to cook on medium.
- After 3 minutes, check to see if the fish is beginning to flake, if not, leave it for a bit longer (check it every 30 seconds). When done to your liking, remove it from the heat and let it sit on a plate while you deglaze the pan. (Note: to check the fish for doneness, use a fork to see if it is beginning to flake. Remember that the fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the pan, so if you like your fish moist and not at all dry, it is best to remove it just as it is beginning to flake. If you like your fish well done, remove it a little bit later, but try to avoid over cooking or the fish will be dry).
- The pan should have lots of brown bits from the fish skin, fish, garlic, ginger, and shallot. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of white wine (nothing expensive, add an amount that reflects your taste preference) to the pan and turn the heat down to low. Begin to remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Add water in very small amounts (1 tbsp at a time) as needed, to remove everything and create a slight amount of liquid around the brown bits. Continue to add more water if the mixture gets too dry. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover each of the pieces of fish with a small amount of the brown bits and liquid. You can add a pat of butter to the pan if you prefer a thicker and more decadent sauce – we did!
- Distribute a piece of fish to each plate and cover with the deglazed sauce/bits.
I made a satay of onions, carrots, snow peas and tomato, and a side of brown rice to accompany the fish.