Roast Halibut with Saffron Corn Sauce


2 cups Saffron Corn Sauce (see recipe), heated through
2 cups (about 1/2 lb.) medium sized oyster mushrooms, torn if large
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup fine diced (corn kernel size) Yukon Gold, or similar potato
1/2 cup fine diced (corn kernel size) red bell pepper
1 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup heirloom tomatoes (mixed types), seeded and diced as above
5 sprigs each fresh thyme and marjoram, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter as needed
Neutral flavored oil, as needed
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs. halibut thick cut filets (or other firm fleshed fish), skin off, cut into four equal pieces (look for filets about 1 1/2 inches thick)


Heat oven to 425°F.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and salt liberally.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, and then lightly rub with oil. Sprinkle with half the minced herbs. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Heat a second pan that is large enough to hold the fish without touching (that is oven proof) over medium-high heat.

When the large sauté pan is hot, film with oil and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter. As soon as it stops foaming, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden colored. Add the wine and toss to coat mushrooms. Cook until wine evaporates, stirring while this happens. Continue cooking until mushrooms are golden and crisp in places. Remove from the pan and reserve, keeping warm. Reduce heat to medium and wipe out pan.

When the water boils, add the diced potato and blanch for 1 minute or until the potatoes no longer taste raw. Drain the potatoes into a fine meshed sieve and shake over the sink to rid them of water. Toss in a bowl and drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Film large sauté pan with oil, and when hot, add the potatoes. Cook until they are turning golden. Once they are golden, make a well in the center and add a little butter. When it is done foaming, add the shallots and stir them to coat with butter. When they are fragrant and transparent, stir them into the potatoes, then make another well. Add the peppers into this and stir about. Cook 1 minute, then stir into the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Make a well, add a little butter, melt it, and add the corn, stirring to coat. Spread out a little and lower the heat to cook gently. Season with salt and pepper and half the remaining herbs. Toss to mix.

Cook until the corn is heated through. Add the tomatoes, toss to mix in and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs and toss to mix in.

Check that the fish pan is hot. Add the fish pieces to the pan, skin facing up. Turn up the heat to high. Cook 4 minutes. Without flipping or turning the fish, place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Continue cooking until the fish is done. If the fish is 1 1/2 inches thick, that should take another 8 minutes. Remember that fish takes around 8 minutes per inch of thickness to cook. If the fish is only 1 inch thick, it should take a total of 8 minutes to be done, including the 4 minutes on the stove top. The fish should be golden brown on the side that is in contact with the pan. Push on a corner of one piece of fish and it should flake fairly easily. When the fish is done, it should release easily from the pan with a spatula/turner.

Have plates ready to go before the fish is done. Two minutes before the fish is done, be sure the mushrooms are hot as well as the sauce. Place a mound of vegetables in the center of each plate, and then ring with the mushrooms around the perimeter. Save 4 pieces of mushroom and 2 tablespoons of vegetable. When the fish is done, use a turner to remove the pieces and flip them over so the crispy side is up and place them on the center of the vegetable mound.  Spoon sauce over each piece of fish, then place 1 mushroom piece and a ½ tablespoon of vegetable onto each piece of fish, and serve hot.

Chef’s Notes:

  • For a smokier flavor, dust the fish lightly with Pimenton de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika) when seasoning it, and then dust lightly after saucing the fish.
  • For a touch of heat that is pleasant against the richness, add a little Piment d’Espelette. If you wish to enrich the sauce, stir in a tablespoon of butter just before saucing the fish.
  • If you can get King Oyster mushrooms, roast them and use in lieu of the regular oyster mushrooms, or substitute the mushrooms for blanched or roasted asparagus.

YIELD: 4 servings

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen

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