Unique recipes for Alaskan Halibut

Halibut Stir Fry

Halibut Stir Fry

Halibut Stir Fry

A stir fry dish is a great weekday option when you are a little pressed for time and is a great way to incorporate various vegetables in one dish. They are a great way to use up vegetables from the past week and to stretch a small amount of protein for 3-4 servings.  It’s a healthy dish but one that does not leave you feeling deprived or hungry later.  I wanted to try a stir fry dish with cubes of halibut and lot of vegetables in a spicy chili garlic sauce.  I marinated the halibut cubes using a jar of chili garlic sauce that is pretty spicy; the sauce is made by the same company that makes sriracha sauce, if that gives you a clue about the spice level.  I like a colorful blend of vegetables, so I used onions, mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, snow peas, and Napa cabbage.

The dish was definitely spicy and had some long lasting heat.  The chili sauce turned the halibut a light pink color so that it almost looked like salmon, but the taste was definitely a moist flakey halibut. You can use any combination of vegetables you like or have on hand, I usually aim for lots of colors and different textures to make the dish interesting.  The brown rice took longer to cook than the preparation and cooking of the stir fry, but that just gives you time to set the table and open the wine.  A fantastic addition to your halibut repertoire.

Smoked Halibut Pizza

Smoked Halibut Pizza

Smoked Halibut Pizza

At our house, Friday nights are for antipasti.  After a week of work and activities, we settle down to a light meal of salami, prosciutto, baguette, cheese, olives, and various marinated vegetables all accompanied by a bottle of wine.  Dessert is usually fruit and nuts, so as to accompany nicely the second bottle of wine we inevitably open.  I often use leftover vegetables or beans from earlier in the week, or open a jar of artichoke hearts, mushrooms, or red peppers and lightly dress them with olive oil, lemon, and seasonings- all very easy to prepare. Its a relaxing way to end the work week, sitting in front of the fire or outside on the patio leisurely eating and catching up with each other. Even when our kids had plans for Friday night, they would sit around the table and eat a light meal with us before heading out with their friends; sometimes the friends would come in and share in the food and conversation before going out.

Last Friday I was thinking of using the leftover smoked halibut and came up with the idea of using it in a pizza.  Let me preface this by saying if you like a thick pizza, smothered in cheese, sauce, and toppings, this will not be the pizza for you.  I prefer a thin crispy crust and only one or two toppings and light on the cheese.  A search on the internet for halibut pizza resulted in lots of pizzas topped with cheese. Now I have always said I don’t like cheese with seafood, but I decided to try making a second pizza with a light tomato sauce and the halibut to see if I was being a little close minded about the issue.

I use a pizza dough recipe that needs about 3-4 hours of rising time, so I had to plan accordingly.  A flavored oil to brush the dough before and after cooking can help to crisp the crust and add flavor; I made an oil flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes to use on this pizza to add some spice.  Thinking about flavors that would compliment the smoked fish, I decided to use caramelized onions to add some sweetness and artichoke hearts, because I like them on about everything.

The pizza was cooked on a pizza stone so the crust was crispy.  All the toppings were used with a light hand and blended harmoniously; the sweet onions complemented the smoky fish and the artichoke hearts added texture.  The flavored oil did elevate the pizza with the garlic and red pepper spiciness coating the crust- not a single crust remained.  This is a light meal, perfect for our antipasti night, but probably would not be substantial enough for a main course.

As for the traditional cheese and tomato sauce pizza, it was unremarkable.  The cheese obliterates the halibut making it an indistinguishable flavor.  I can now say I have tried cheese with seafood and definitely do not like it.  Now the smoked halibut pizza with caramelized onions and artichokes- that one I loved and will make again.

Smoked Halibut Tostada

Smoked Halibut Tostada

Smoked Halibut Tostada

After successfully smoking the halibut fillets, it was time to think of how to use the remaining smoked fillets for weekday dinners. Tostadas are a great option when you have some leftover chicken or beef, so why not smoked halibut?  I cooked some white beans flavored with jalapeno, onions, peppers, and cumin, but you could certainly use canned white beans and heat them up with the same seasonings if you were short on time.  Besides our usual toppings of cabbage, salsa, red onion, and avocado, I also used added banana peppers as the acidity goes well with the smoked flavor.  The great thing about tostadas is you can personalize the toppings to your preference, and even buy precooked tostada shells if you don’t want to fry your own.

This was a great easy to prepare meal.  The crunchiness of the tortilla is balanced by creamy spicy white beans, tender flakey smoked halibut and all the fresh toppings.  The smokiness was a dominant flavor but was tempered by the salsa and pickled peppers. Accompanied by a side of green rice, it was a satisfying weekday meal and a good addition to my halibut repertoire.

 

 

Smoked Halibut over Lentils

Smoked Halibut over Lentils

Smoked Halibut over Lentils

I recently took stock of my halibut stash and realized that I can see the bottom of the freezer and I have cooked a little over half of the halibut.  I became a little panicked thinking that pretty soon I will be out of halibut and my halibut journey may be over…..please no!  So I prioritized my remaining list of ideas and recipes to ensure I would prepare those recipes that inspired me the  most.

We purchased a vertical wood smoker/pizza oven for Christmas, so smoking halibut was top on the list. I wanted to smoke a couple pounds of fillets and then use the meat in several meals throughout the week- utilizing the principle of cook once and eat twice or even three times. I planned to make a pot of lentils flavored with our home smoked bacon and vegetables, and then top the lentils with the smoked halibut fillet.  I prepared the fish simply with lemon, Old Bay Seasoning, and olive oil and used a combination of applewood and hickory wood to smoke the fillets.  It took about 1 1/2 hours to cook the fish and the fish remained very moist with an almost sweet smoky flavor.  The lentils were earthy and with a faint smoky pork undertone that complemented the fish well.  A lemon Dijon vinaigrette pulled the dish together and added a bracing acidity that rounded out the dish with a refreshing finish. A perfect dish for the cold month of January with New Years resolutions to eat healthier-and now I get to ponder how to use the leftovers……

 

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella- serves 4-6

Paella is a versatile dish that can be served for a quiet night at home or can be the star dish for a dinner party or weekend barbeque.  Spaniards are proud of their national dish and a typical weekend lunch for the family usually includes a large paella accompanied by Spanish wines.  Along the coastline of Barcelona, I ate one of the best seafood paellas I’ve ever encountered, and became somewhat of an annoyance to the waitress as I kept asking her questions about the ingredients.  The star of the dish was the rice.  The vegetables were all finely chopped and there was a mixture of seafood in bite sized pieces all flavored with smoked paprika.  It was a perfect balance of rice and seafood.

I wanted to make a mixed seafood paella while my kids were still home and of course, halibut would be put in the mix.  Besides chunks of halibut, I used calamari, shrimp, and mussels.  The great thing about paella is you can be flexible with the ingredients and use whatever seafood is fresh when you go to the market.  Scallops, clams, lobster, crabs, and any firm whitefish are other options to consider.  The canned shellfish stock adds depth to the flavor profile and smoked paprika is essential to the dish.

This was the first time I have used halibut in paella but it will not be the last.  The chunks of halibut were moist and almost meaty, a good complement to the calamari rings, shrimp, and mussels; it was a successful marriage of seafood to rice with the flavors of both shining through.  Will definitely make this again….and again……and again…..