I was mentally preparing to braise a pork shoulder today when I happened upon Kalofagas this morning. One look at Peter’s grouper baked in parchment paper, and my brain said, “now this is what you want!” Lisl and I are both suffering from colds, and the light taste of Mediterranean summer just seemed perfect. Indeed, it was so.
A segue: I’m very picky about the freshness of my fish, and until I find a fishmonger I trust, I tend to stay away. When I lived in San Francisco a decade ago, I would trek out to the Chinese markets in Sunset because the freshness was so superior to the normal supermarkets. We’ve now been in Rye, NY for two years, but I will admit that it took Peter’s post to get me to test out a fish market in Port Chester. The upside is that I was very impressed. One look at the eyes of the whole snappers behind the glass and I knew that they dealt in fresh fish.
Back to this recipe, the amounts here feed two quite nicely. It’s a delicious, fast meal to put together, and the ingredients are quite similar to how I like to cook mussels. The below is similar to Peter’s recipe, but not identical, so I recommend you check out his blog as well if you haven’t already.
A 1 lb halibut steak (or filets)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings or half-rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
half a green pepper, chopped
3 campari tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup dry vermouth
pinch of dry basil
several leaves of fresh oregano
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400F.
Heat up a splash of olive oil on medium-low heat and saute the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add in the green pepper, saute for a few minutes. Then add in the vermouth and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes then remove from the heat.
Lay the halibut on a piece of parchment paper that extends several inches past the length-wise ends of the steak. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top, then spoon out the vegetables and liquid on top of the fish. Sprinkle a pinch of dried basil leaves on top, dot a few oregano leaves around, and place two slices of lemon on each end of the steak. Fold the sides of the parchment paper up towards the middle and tuck one over the other and refold a few times to create a seal and get the paper snug with the fish. Twist each end of paper and tie off with kitchen string.
Place on a baking tray. If you have too much parchment paper hanging off the ends to fit in the oven easily, trim with scissor. Bake for 15 minutes, then check one of the packets. If you have a steak, remove the backbone from the middle, carefully half the fish, and plate. Spoon the delicious broth over the top.
I kept the below picture of the halibut steak because it interested me. I can’t quite put my finger on why; perhaps because it has that grainy, soft-focus, de-saturated look I adore in Orangette’s pictures.
P.S. Now that I’m cooking fish again, I have to tackle an interesting but never-attempted technique: baking a whole fish packed in salt.