Fresh halibut, cooked simply

April 14, 1999|By Bev Bennett | By Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

If you're looking for a meaty fish dinner, nothing compares with a thick fish steak. A generously cut fish steak can be cooked on the grill, in the broiler or on top of the stove.

Fish steaks offer the satisfying mouth-feel of beef at a fraction of the calories and fat. But even within the fish category, you'll see a wide range in fat content. Albacore tuna is highest, and halibut is lowest among the popular fish choices for steak cuts. You'll notice the difference when you take a bite.

Tuna, salmon and swordfish have a sweet taste that does have a hint of fish oil in it. (Relax. This is good fat.) Halibut, by contrast, has a lighter texture and more delicate taste.

This is the season when you'll find fresh halibut in fish stores and better supermarkets. According to fishery reports, halibut is not as plentiful as it once was, so if you see it, take the opportunity to try it.

Halibut is best when cooked simply. You can grill, broil or saute it. I prefer a saute method, so I can make a quick sauce in the same cooking skillet.

To begin, I marinate the steaks in lemon juice. The acid both firms up the flesh and flavors it. Then I saute the fish in olive oil, tequila and capers. It's a delicious and simple preparation for a delightful fish.

Serve halibut with asparagus, another spring specialty. While the halibut is cooking on top of the stove, I roast asparagus in the oven to bring out the sweetness in the stalks. A little lemon butter finishes the dish.

Roast Asparagus With Lemon-Shallot Butter

Serves 2

1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoons butter

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

4 teaspoons lemon juice

Place asparagus in single layer in small roasting pan. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper and stir to coat. Roast at 500 degrees, shaking once, until asparagus are tender and browned, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of spears.

Meanwhile, melt butter in small pan. Add shallot and saute until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Drizzle over asparagus.

Halibut Steaks With Tequila

Serves 2

2 small halibut steaks, 5 to 6 ounces each

juice of 1 lemon

salt, pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons tequila

1 tablespoon minced shallots

2 tablespoons capers

Place halibut steaks in shallow bowl. Add lemon juice. Turn halibut over to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Remove steaks from lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed skillet just large enough to hold fish. Add halibut and cook over high heat 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm.

Add tequila and scrape up any browned bits in skillet. Add shallots and capers and cook over medium heat 1 minute until syrupy. Pour over fish. Serve immediately.

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