thomas keller's pan-roasted halibut

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to eat more fish, so it's fitting we begin one of the early posts of 2011 with a golden brown piece of halibut from Thomas Keller. Fish is something I love to eat but I typically fall into one of three categories: 1) I forget to buy it fresh when I go to the store; 2) I don't know how to cook it properly; 3) I don't want it smelling up my kitchen so I order it when we go out to dinner instead.

If any of these excuses sound familiar to you, I have some solutions. First, buy it. Since I meal plan well in advance (most of the time), I sometimes fail to buy fish at the store because I don't have a meal planned around it, but I've started working on being more flexible. Now, I buy fish anyway and work it into a meal within a next day or so. To address the second concern, I've collected recipes and techniques that I'm starting to apply with great results. Fish is only intimidating if you don't start learning. And finally, good fish shouldn't actually smell like fish, so be sure to buy the freshest fish possible.

In restaurants, I love when my fish comes out all golden on one side and flaky in the middle. It's certainly a technique that I've longed to master. Plus, it makes quite a nice presentation. I served mine with buttery black rice and roasted tomatoes, but any vegetables you like will do.


Adapted slightly from Ad-Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

1 pound halibut filet, cut into six rectangular pieces
Kosher salt
Canola or vegetable oil
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

1. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Check that all bones were removed from halibut, then season both sides with salt. Add some canola oil to a large ovenproof frying pan and heat over high heat until it shimmers. Add the halibut to the pan, presentation (nicer) side down. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the bottom of the fish is golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 2 minutes, until just cooked through.

4. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the fish over, and "kiss" the second side for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a platter and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.