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Chef Jon's Spotlight on Halibut

Updated: Apr 12

Texture: Lean, Flaky, Firm

Flavor: Sweet, Mild, Clean


Best Cooking Methods: Baking, Sautéing, Broiling

Best Temperature: 125-130 degrees internal with instant-read thermometer


Chef’s Notes:


Halibut is one of my favorite fish.  Its light flaky texture and clean, mild flavor make it a wonderful fish for someone who doesn’t like “fishy” fish. Because of its lighter flavor profile, it works very well with bold flavors like lemon, garlic, spices and even Parmesan cheese.


Sauté halibut using the 90/10 cooking method (cooked 90% on one side and 10% on the second side yielding excellent browning on one side and tender and buttery on the other side).  


Grilling halibut can be tricky, but if you have a very hot and very clean grill, it is a wonderful way to enjoy the fish.


When you first start cooking halibut, it can seem challenging but starting with a simple bake and broil recipe should give you the confidence to give this delicacy a try. Be very careful not to overcook your fish! Using an instant-read thermometer and cooking your fish to 125-130 degrees will give you the best texture and juiciest fish!


Lemon Basil Pesto Crusted Halibut


Technique: Baking, Broiling

Yield: 4 Servings

Garnish Suggestions: Cacio E Pepe asparagus, roasted potatoes with thyme and pecorino


Ingredients

For the fish:

-          4 (5-6 ounce) halibut fillets

-          Salt and pepper

-          2 tablespoons butter cut into 4 pieces

For the Topping:

-          1 cup (~ 2 oz.)  basil leaves, before picking the leaves

-          1-3 (~.5 oz.) garlic cloves, depending on size and your love of garlic

-          1 tsp lemon zest

-          1 tablespoon (.5 oz.) lemon juice

-          2 tablespoons (1 oz.) pine nuts toasted in a 325-degree oven until browned

-          1/3 cup (1.5 oz.) Parmesan cheese, grated finely

-           1/3 cup (3 oz.) mayonnaise

-          ¼ t. (1 oz.) salt

-          3 grinds pepper


Instructions

Preheat

1.      Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the upper middle part of the oven.

Topping

1.      Add the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, zest, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Puree on high for 30 seconds, stopping to scrape the side of the bowl.  It may take multiple scrapings if the amount is too small for your processor.


2. Add mayo and puree for another 30 seconds, scraping the bowl at least once. Make sure all of the ingredients are well combined and the nuts and cheese have broken down a good amount.

3.      Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  It should have a solid lemon flavor with the nuttiness from the Parmesan and pine nuts.


4.      Using a rubber spatula, scrape into a bowl and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.


Fish

1.      Pat your fish dry with paper towels to prevent any excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper lightly.

2.      Place the fish in a non-reactive baking dish. Add one piece of butter next to each piece of fish.

3.      Spoon 2 tablespoons of topping per piece of fish and spread evenly over the top, prepare to bake. 


Baking/Broiling

1.     Place the fish on the rack set in the upper middle position. Bake for 12-14 min. for thinner pieces and 16-18 minutes for thicker pieces. (120-125 degrees internal temperature before broiling.)

2.      Switch oven to broil on high, and broil the fish for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Remove the fish from the oven and plate immediately.

3.      Spoon any topping that slid off back onto the fish before serving.


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