I spied two adorable, tow headed twin girls, about 7, in the housewares aisle at Target this week. Girl 1 sees a frying pan which prompts her to say to Girl 2, "I wish I could buy this and hit you over the head with it." Girl 2 responds with, "Oh, I would buy it and make lots of things." Mom asks, "Oh! What would you make?" "You know, pancakes, bacon. That kind of stuff." Hi Mom. What about daughter no 1 and her predilection for violence? All I can say in Girl 1's defense is that it is the holidays and it was a Rachel Ray frying pan.
And what does this have to do with pan-seared halibut? Nada.
This dish is inspired by a recipe from the insane cookbook, Volt ink, from Bryn and Michael Voltaggio. The book is a mostly a work of art and those brothers are off-the-charts-bad-ass. The reality is, of course, that it is a reference book for chefs and in no way shape or form for the home cook. One of the first recipes requires an immersion circulator, vacuum sealer, plastic food syringe some plastic tubing and a smoking gun. Yup, just keep all of that far away from girl 1.
I love the flavor profiles of (my highly adapted version) of the dish and I don't think you need to jump through all of the molecular gastronomy hoops to get there. But, hey, who am I to say? These guys get people to lay down some serious cash for the pleasure to eat their food every night.
There are no tricks to this at all. Just marinate the halibut for about an hour, cook the rice, make the sauce and all you will need to do is put everything together when it's go time. Halibut is gorgeous on it's own so no need to mask or overpower it with a spicy sauce. I like the idea of serving the curry on the side so you can control how you eat it. If I were going for points in presentation, I would have laid down some of the sauce, draped the fish over it and garnished with the scallions. It's as equally elegant as it is comfort food which makes it a perfect candidate for Christmas dinner.
pan-seared halibut with red curry sauce and coconut rice
For the fish:
1.5-2 lb halibut
1/2 c miso paste
3 T mirin
For the curry sauce:
4 T red curry paste (store bought or make your own)
2 T butter
1 can coconut milk
1 t fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
lime to taste
For the rice:
2 c jasmine rice
1 1/2 c coconut milk (from a can)
1 1/2 c water
1 T butter
1 t salt
1 t smoked or brown sugar (optional)
Combine the miso paste and mirin until you reach the texture of peanut butter. Coat the fish on both sides, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to cook, lightly rinse the fish, pat dry and set aside.
Bring all of the ingredients for the rice to a boil, give it a stir, cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until done.
Add the curry paste to a medium saucepan over high heat. Toast the paste until it is very fragrant. Turn down the heat to medium, add the butter and coconut milk. Simmer for about 20 minutes, giving it an occasional stir. If it gets too thick, add some water but you may need to add some additional paste. Just before you are ready to serve, add a bit of fish sauce, some lime and maybe sugar to taste. Keep warm.
Heat a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet to medium high. Add about 2 T of butter and the scallions just before the butter begins to brown. Cook the lions until they are softened and marked with some color. Turn, season with a bit of salt and set aside.
Wipe out any butter reside from the pan and bring it back up to medium high heat. Melt about 2 T of butter and add the fish. If you have pieces that are uneven in thickness, put the thicker ones on first and add the thinner ones after a minute of two. Turn down the heat to medium once you have a good sear on the fish. Tilt the pan to scoop up some of the butter and baste the fish as it cooks.
Since you are working with a few components, warm up your plates in the oven to keep everything hot (the fish will lose heat quickly). Add a scoop of rice to the serving dish, lay across a piece of fish, drape the scallion over the top and add some sauce around the side.