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August is my favorite month in Seattle foodwise: warm, sunny weather produces tons of cherry tomatoes, both red and yellow, along with an explosion of fresh herbs and peppers that I grow on my deck. And it just so happens that Alaskan halibut and Wild Alaskan King Salmon are the most affordable this time of the year. Win/win!
So the other day I picked up a pound of fresh Alaskan halibut, having no clue how I was going to prepare it. I looked lovingly at my large cast iron skillet, and because I had recently served brown rice and sauteed eggplant, I figured I’d prepare a very, very simple halibut dish using what I had in my kitchen and on my deck. Eat local and all…
I briefly sauteed the fish in olive oil, about two minutes on each side. Then I added my tomato/basil, garlic, lemon juice mix and swirled it in the skillet, adding a dab of butter for richness. Everything was briefly warmed and badda bing, badda boom – I was done.
This is so bright and easy and you only dirty one large saute pan! The sauce tastes delicious over rice or sopped up with a piece of crusty bread…Run, don’t walk, to the fishmonger and pick up a halibut fillet – or two. Make a salad, prepare some summer veggies, steam some rice or another whole grain and know that the fish, prep and all, will take no more than 15 minutes start to finish. And the majority of that time is just for heating your skillet.
One Pot Summer Halibut
3 large servings (or 4 smaller ones)
- 1 lb halibut fillet (with skin on)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup basil leaves, chiffonade plus four whole sprigs for serving
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes (red or yellow or a combination)
- Juice of ½ large lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp salted butter
Cut your halibut into three or four pieces and pat dry. Press in the salt and pepper to the side without skin.
Chiffonade the basil, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, juice the half lemon and mince the garlic. Combine and set everything aside.
Heat the cast iron or other fry pan until it is medium hot. A cast iron skillet takes at least eight minutes set on medium heat to be ready.
Add the oil and wait a minute until it is hot. Add the halibut fillets skin side down, shaking the pan slightly to prevent sticking. After three minutes, carefully turn each piece with a fish spatula. Cook an additional two minutes on the skin side.
Add the basil, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic and simmer with the fish for two minutes. Add the butter until melted. Once the fish is cooked through, another minute or so, taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper to taste.
Place warmed rice (or another cooked grain) on the bottom of a shallow bowl, top with the fish and spoon sauce on top of the fish. Top each dish with a sprig of fresh basil. Enjoy!
Cooks note: I know this sauce would be good with almost any other delicate white fish too. Halibut is one of my faves and I only eat it in the summer when it is fresh fresh fresh!