Pan-roast halibut filets in a hot non-stick skillet and finish them with a brief steaming in a little white wine. To finish the dish, make a lemon-parsley-caper vinaigrette to use as a sauce. You’ll have an easy and healthy dinner on the table in a matter of minutes. If you enjoy eating fish but think it’s hard, try this easy technique.
As it’s winter and the wild Alaskan halibut I love is still months away from being available, I’ve turned happily to cooking with local halibut. These pearly white filets are thinner and smaller than their wild Alaskan cousins, still delicious and definitely more affordable. This has become my “go-to” recipe for a fast fish dinner. I’ve probably made it five times in the past few weeks, for the two of us and dinner guests as well.
Fold Your Fish
Long, thin tapered fish filets can be tricky to work with. They can be too long to fit in a pan or fall apart when you turn them. They don’t present as impressively as a thicker filet. The solution? Fold them. This creates a thicker, more uniform piece of fish to work with.
With the smooth side (or top side) down, fold in the thin ends of the filet. After folding your filets, turn them over. Drizzle the top with a tiny bit of olive oil then season.
Season and Cook For a Fast Dinner
My favorite seasoning blend lately is Penzey’s Florida Seasoned Pepper. It’s a salt-free blend of Tellicherry black pepper, lemon peel, orange peel, garlic and onion. You can use salt, pepper and granulated garlic combination or a lemon pepper blend, whatever you prefer.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the filets seasoned side down. Don’t touch them for a few minutes, allowing a golden crust to form. Peak underneath to test.
Next, turn the filets over, add white wine to the pan and quickly clamp on a tight fitting lid. If you have them, glass lids work well so you can see what’s going on in the pan.
Turn the heat down a little. Depending on the thickness of your filets, your fish will steam to completion in just a few minutes. The halibut should be barely opaque in the center when done. To keep the fish moist, don’t overcook it.
Lemon Vinaigrette to Finish
To dress the halibut, make a light and flavorful vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and capers. This is sort of like what we call Piccata in the U.S., but with no butter so it’s lighter. Spoon a tablespoon over the fish when you serve. For extra lemon flavor, add a small wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top.
If you can’t find halibut, try another mild, white fish that has thin filets.
Other Helpful Links
- Seafood recommendations from Seafood Watch and the Monterey Bay Aquarium
- How to make homemade lemon pepper, from Laurie at Simply Scratch. You could also add orange zest to come close to the Penzey’s blend.
- Another recipe for homemade lemon pepper from eHow Food
- Penzey’s salt-free Florida Seasoned Pepper, already made for you. I like the combo of lemon and orange.
- Need another sauce option? Try this pineapple mango salsa and skip the vinaigrette
Thin filets of halibut make a fast and healthy dinner. Top with a bright and flavorful vinaigrette of lemon juice, parsley and capers to use as a sauce. You’ll have dinner on the table in minutes. A tip on cooking with wine: if you don’t drink wine but like to cook with it on occasion, buy the mini plastic bottles (airline size) that come in four packs at the grocery store. They work great for cooking when only a small amount is needed. You can also use water or broth instead of wine.
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle on the fish to cook
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice (Meyer if you can)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2-3 grams) fine lemon zest
- 1 teaspoons capers, rinsed and dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon ( 5 grams) Penzey’s Florida Pepper blend, or salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. or a lemon pepper blend
- 2 – 6 ounce (340 grams total) thin halibut filets, or one 12 ounce filet cut in half
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dry white wine (water or vegetable broth)
- First make your vinaigrette. Whisk together olive oil, lemon, juice, lemon zest, capers and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. If using thin filets, fold the thin tail ends towards the center creating a more uniform piece of fish. Drizzle the top of the filet with a tiny bit of olive of and season.
- Place the seasoned fish filets top (seasoned) side down in the hot pan and cook for a few minutes until a golden cruse starts to form. Turn the filets over, pour in the white wine and immediately place a tight fitting lid on top of the pan. Turn the heat down a bit and allow the filets to steam finish in the wine. It will only take a few minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. When done, fish should be barley opaque in the center.
- To serve, drizzle with a little of the vinaigrette. You may to need it all. Use leftover for salad or to dress cooked vegetables.