When you buy halibut, a satisfying firm-fleshed fish, get a thick cut and ask the fishmonger to remove the skin and bloodlines. Thicker pieces of boneless halibut will be both easier to turn in the pan and harder to overcook. They brown in a skillet and finish cooking briefly in the oven. Before you begin, stir together a simple compound butter with fresh tarragon, chives, and shallots, something you might be served in a traditional French bistro. Once the fish is fully cooked, melt some butter on top, then add another pat just before serving. This mild-flavored white fish pairs well with asparagus, fresh peas, or baby potatoes. Even better if you have extra tarragon butter to add to them too.
|8||tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature|
|¼||cup chopped fresh tarragon|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh chives|
|1||tablespoon Dijon mustard|
|1||small shallot, finely chopped|
|Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1½||pounds skinless boneless halibut, cut into 4 pieces|
|2||tablespoons canola oil|
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a large skillet with an ovenproof handle.
2. In a small bowl, combine butter, tarragon, chives, mustard, shallot, lemon juice and rind, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
3. With a paper towel, pat the halibut dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. When the pan is hot, add the halibut, skinned-side up. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes without disturbing it, or until the undersides are well browned. Gently turn each piece.
5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the halibut is just beginning to flake.
6. Set a piece of fish on each of 4 warm dinner plates. Top each piece with a dollop of the herb butter. Let them rest for 3 minutes.
7. Place an additional pat of butter on each piece just before serving. Karoline Boehm Goodnick