Halibut with Sambal Vinaigrette and Wasabi Cream

This is one of my favorite dishes to serve for a light summer dinner at the height of halibut season on the Monterey Bay. Place the cooked halibut on a bed of watercress or mache, sauce, and finish with a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds. Serve with steamed bok choy and rice or cous cous.

INGREDIENTS:

For sambal vinaigrette
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
3 teaspoons sambal oelek (Southeast Asian chile sauce)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Drop of sesame oil or hot chile oil, pinch of sugar

For wasabi cream
2 teaspoons wasabi (green horseradish) powder
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sour cream

For halibut
1 (2-lb) halibut steak (1 1/2 inches thick), skinned, boned, and cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Accompaniment: pickled ginger

METHOD:

Make vinaigrette:
Blend vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt.

Make wasabi cream:
Whisk together wasabi powder and water until smooth, then whisk in sour cream. Season with salt.

Make halibut:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 side of each piece with parsley.

Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add oil, then fish, parsleyed sides up. Sear fish until undersides are browned, about 1 minute.

Turn fish over and put skillet in middle of oven. Roast until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve fish, parsleyed sides up, with a spoonful of each sauce. Garnish with a couple of pieces of pickled ginger.

SOURCE: From Highland’s Garden Cafe in Denver, Colorado, published in Gourmet Magazine, August 2000 

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