Being from the Pacific Northwest, I’m no stranger to seafood. Most of the major fishing companies are headquartered in and depart from the ports of Seattle, Washington. As a result, seafood is a major part of our “bloodline,” like corn Is to Iowans, BBQ is to Texans and Bagels are to New Yorkers. So, it is no coincidence that i did a brief (ok maybe not so brief-4 years) stint working in the fishing industry.
The year I graduated from high school, i took a road trip with two friends, through California. Through my travels along the way, I encountered a person who had told stories of working in Alaska, on fishing boats.
He depicted stories of the tranquility of Alaska and all of its natural beauty. He spoke of the wondrous eagles, the “Oh so mighty” Kodiak Grizzly Bears, the ethereal northern lights and majestic rivers. He also spoke of the money, so much of it, like the days of the gold rush era. To this fresh faced, recent high school graduate, who longed to see the world, beyond the steps of her doorway, this job sounded ideal. So, when I returned from my travels, I “signed” up to work on fishing boats in Alaska.
What was not included in his picturesque stories about Alaska, were the arduous seas, the swollen limbs, the endless hours and days of work, sea sickness and people falling overboard, only to be swallowed up by the cold and ominous Bering Sea.
As for the “endless supply of money”, HA! Money earned, accumulated in your bank account, because you were out at sea for months, so there was no where to spend it.
However, I did see the beautiful sights mentioned in his stories and they were just as i had envisioned on the day he told me about Alaska.
Seared Halibut and Roasted Sweet Summer Corn
Halibut is one of my favorite types of fish, however you can use any type of white fish you like for this recipe. I was inspired by this dish, when I walked past the fish department and next to the fish department, was a pyramid of corn on the cob. As a result, this dish was “born.” This is a very quick dish to prepare and can be plated any way you like, i plated it here two ways, one on a “plate” and the other in a bowl.
If using fresh corn, cook the corn in the husk in the microwave for 3 minutes and then cut off the end of the corn and slowly slip off the husk of the corn. This is a quick and easy way to remove the husk and the “corn silk” all at once. Once removed cut of the corn. I then sautéed the corn, red bell peppers in a dry pan on medium high heat to give it color. I used a cast-iron, but any skillet heated to medium high will give the same color. Set this aside, as this will be used for garnish.
In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat butter on medium heat. Add chopped yellow onions, cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the corn, potatoes and 1/2 the stock. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.
This step is important, so don’t skip it. By straining the corn puree through a sieve, the puree will have a smooth texture. I find when i blend ingredients there are sometimes “chunks” remaining, so i often strain the puree after blending it.
Searing the fish is not necessary, but i like the taste and the appearance. To get a good sear, make sure the pan is hot, the oil is “shimmering” and the fish is dry.
You can substitute chicken for fish in this dish too. A touch of cream adds a bit more flavor and thickens the broth. If the puree is too thin, add a little bit of cream.
Do Ahead: All steps can be done a day ahead, except the fish. Cook the fish five minutes before serving the dish.
- 2 pieces of Halibut or any white fish (about 3 oz each), skin on or off
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon diced red bell pepper
- ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
- ¼ cup chopped potatoes
- 1 cup of fish stock or chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- paprika to taste (or smoked paprika)
- salt and pepper to taste
- heavy cream to taste *optional
- Cooking the Broth
- If using fresh corn - Remove corn kernels from cob (see above how to do this).
- Dice red bell pepper.
- Combine ¼ cup corn kernels and diced red bell peppers
- In a skillet, heat to medium high, add corn and red bell pepper mixture and cook until browned and tender, set aside.
- In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat butter on medium heat.
- Add chopped yellow onions to butter, cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium high, add the corn, potatoes and ½ the stock. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once cool place in blender and blend until smooth.
- Remove from blender and strain through a sieve.
- Return corn puree to large, heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium.
- Add salt and pepper and remaining stock, if too thick add cream or milk to thin.
- Set corn puree aside.
- Pan searing the Halibut
- Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 300°F. Pat fish dry on paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add fish pieces, skin side down and cook, swirling and rotating them around the pan until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Flip fish and transfer to oven. Cook about 5 minutes, you can test if the fish is thoroughly cooked, by insetting a knife in the center of the fish. The inserted knife should go in with ease.
- On two plates or shallow bowls divide the broth between the two plates or bowls.
- Place a piece of fish on top of the broth.
- Arrange the corn and red bell pepper mixture on top of the broth.
- Garnish with paprika.
You could also replace the fish with chicken if you prefer. For a Vegetarian option, you could sear some vegetables or tofu.