Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Baked Halibut with Bacon-Chive Panfried Potatoes

With halibut season upon us, it was only right that we have some for dinner, along with the baby potatoes that I had not used yet. There was a lemon, some fresh asparagus and lots of bacon to be used, and the herb garden is really starting to fill out with the beautiful Spring weather....chives are abundant right now.

The potatoes were easy... baby potatoes, white, red and purple which I washed and placed in a pot with cold water and a bit of salt.

Bring to a boil and cook until they are just tender.

Drain the potatoes and leave in the colander to cool down until you are ready to cut and finish cooking them.

Dice 4 rashers of bacon and cook on a low heat in a large pan; I like to use a wok.

Add 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Cook until the fat starts rendering before turning up the heat.

Turn the heat up and add 1 sprig of fresh rosemary to the pan.

Cut the potatoes into quarters, or slices, whichever you prefer, while the bacon cooks.

Continue to cook until the bacon starts to crisp. Stir regularly; the smell of the rosemary is amazing!

At this point turn the oven on to 400F to heat for the fish.

Add all the potatoes to the bacon, add a bit of salt (you can always add more later, remember bacon is pretty salty) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender and fluffy on the inside.

For the fish, combine:

zest of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on high heat, adding a bit of olive oil.

When the oil is almost smoking, add the fish, skin side down.

Rub the lemon zest paste onto each fillet, then remove from the stove top and place the pan into the oven to finish cooking the fish.

You want to allow about 10 minutes per inch of thickness if you start the fish in the pan. If you place it directly into the oven you allow between 12 - 15 minutes per inch of thickness. You can feel if the fish is done by gently pressing the sides of the fillet; as it cooks it will firm up. You can also see if the middle is not cooked by the colour change on the side of the fish.

Finish off the potatoes while the fish is in the oven.

Taste and adjust seasoning; turn up the heat if more crispiness is desired.

Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives and remove from the heat.

Serve the fish with the hot,lcrispy potatoes, steamed asparagus and I also made a fresh cherry tomato and avocado salad. I added a bit of shaved Parmesan to the potatoes once they were on the plates.

  • Choose your favourite, or available, fish instead of halibut. For baking a thicker, firmer fish is preferred. Try salmon, cod or swordfish. If you have thinner fillets such as sole, trout, snapper or tilapia, try baking it in parchment (Sole Baked in Parchment Paper with Capers and Lemon) or rolled and stuffed (Sole Fillets with Asparagus, Grape Tomatoes and Avocado).
  • The paste can consist of anything that will add flavour to the fish...lemon or lime zest or juice; flavoured olive oil or nut oil; spices such as fennel seeds, chili flakes or cumin; sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup; Dijon mustard; chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro or dill; minced olives or sundried tomatoes; chopped nuts; flavoured salt.
  • Searing the fish first helps crisp the skin, but is not essential to the recipe. Rub the paste onto the fish and place directly into the oven if you wish.
  • If you like sauce with your fish, consider a simple butter sauce (see instructions in the post Pork Tenderloin 'Piccata' with Sundried Tomato and Herb Polenta. 
  • Another option is to use a flavoured mayonnaise. Use a store bought mayonnaise and add in lemon zest and juice, chopped fresh herbs of your choice and ground black pepper. Turn it into an easy tartar sauce by adding equal amounts of finely chopped pickles, capers and green onion and season with salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice.
  • For the potatoes, this would be an excellent way to use up extra potatoes from a previous meal, or to plan ahead and deliberately cook too many! The bacon adds a lot of flavour and the bacon fat helps to crisp them up. If you eliminate the bacon, use olive oil to cook the potatoes.
  • Turn it into a breakfast hash by cooking chopped breakfast sausage instead of bacon, before adding the potatoes.
  • Add sliced onions, green onions, red peppers, corn, chopped tomatoes to the potatoes. Serve them for breakfast, topped with a poached egg.
  • The rosemary infuses the bacon and bacon fat with flavour and the potatoes absorb that. Chopped fresh rosemary can also be added, as can other woody herbs such as thyme or sage.
  • Instead of Parmesan, if you want to use cheese to finish off the potatoes, try cheddar, goat cheese or asiago.
  • Jamie Oliver has baked fish recipe that inspired this meal. He tops the fish with chopped rosemary, lemon and black pepper, and then wraps the fish in bacon,  before baking it. I used these concepts, but broke them up, just to change it up a bit. I've included a link below; it's one of our favourite fish meals.                                                                                                             
  • If you have a lot of zucchini, slice it thinly lengthwise, season the fish and then wrap it in the zucchini, before browning both sides and popping it into the oven. The zucchini will help to keep the fish moist, as it contains a lot of water.
  • I like the contrast of cold, sweet cherry tomatoes and silky avocado with the warm fish, so usually serve that instead of a sauce.
  • If you have fish leftover, use it to make fish tacos, or fish cakes, as I did in the post  Homemade Fish Cakes with Red Peppers and Corn.

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