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Butter enhances halibut, veggies

by CAROL BORCHARDT Scripps Howard News Service on April 25, 2013 11:00 AM

Fresh halibut is one of the most desirable of all seafood catches. It has a mild, sweet flavor that lends itself well to almost any preparation.

Look for Pacific or Alaskan halibut. It’s carefully regulated and one of the most sustainable seafood choices available, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

This halibut preparation uses a butter-basting (also called pan-basting) method to cook the fillets on the stove top. You may wonder why anyone would want to take something so healthful like fish and then bathe it in butter.

The browned butter adds a wonderful nutty flavor and prevents the fish from drying out.

If you want, you don’t even have to flip the fish; the butter will help brown and crisp the side facing up. If you don’t want butter in the finished dish, leave it behind in the pan and drain the fish briefly on a paper towel.

BUTTER-BASTED HALIBUT WITH BABY VEGETABLES

Serves 2

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup water

1 large lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons) plus lemon slices for garnish

2 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped

8 baby carrots

6 baby red potatoes, quartered

10 baby zucchini

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

1 handful Italian parsley leaves (about 1/2 cup loosely packed), roughly chopped

1/2 cup peas, fresh or thawed if frozen

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 (8-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons butter, softened

Combine broth and water in a shallow saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add lemon juice, scallions and carrots.

Reduce heat to low, cover slightly and cook carrots 8 to 10 minutes or until you can just barely pierce the carrots.

Add potatoes, cover slightly and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.

Add zucchini and garlic to pan.

Cover slightly and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Stir in thyme, parsley and peas. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Keep warm.

Generously season halibut on both sides with salt and black pepper.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Brown the halibut fillets for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Add the butter to the pan, and when the butter melts, tilt the skillet toward you to pool the butter.

With a large soup spoon, begin basting the fish constantly with the bubbling butter for 5 to 6 minutes, returning the pan to a level position over the heat several times to keep the pan evenly hot.

Let rest for 1 to 2 minutes for carry-over cooking to finish cooking the fish.

The fish is cooked through when firm to the touch and easily flakes with a fork. (Exceptionally thick pieces may need a bit of time in a 400-degree oven.)

Serve over braised vegetables and drizzle with butter from pan if desired.

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