Because of its firm, meaty texture, I think of halibut as the strip steak of fish. Its light fresh taste is perfectly delicious when cooked with a spring vegetable salad of asparagus, fennel and grape tomatoes tinged with lemon. It all cooks up neatly in a foil packet, kind of like the hobo suppers we used to eat at summer camp as kids. Because fish has a tendency to dry out, cooking it in the bag or steaming is a wonderful technique for home cooks because even if you overcook it, the fish sealed inside the package will be moist and tender. You’ll love the easy prep and cleanup but the real reason to make this dish is that it just plain tastes so good.
It’s that easy: When choosing fish for dinner, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch for help in making healthy choices for dinner and for our oceans. It contains information about what fish to avoid (because of overfishing, PCBs, how they are caught) and healthy alternatives to that particular fish. Check it out. You’ll learn lots.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 13 grape tomatoes, halved
- 10 spears asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons Two Brothers Seafood Seasoning
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Four 6 to 8-oz halibut filets
- 4 pieces foil, roughly 15-inches square
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Lay a sheet pan in the center of the oven.
- Combine the fennel, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, zest, 1 teaspoon Seafood Seasoning, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl with a few grinds of pepper. Toss the vegetables well to combine the flavors.
- Pat the halibut filets dry and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and the remaining Seafood Seasoning.
- Lay the foil on a work surface and place the fish slightly off-center in the middle. Top each fish filet with vegetables and bring the larger side of the foil over the top of the fish and seal tightly by rolling the bottom foil up around the edges (you want to keep all the juices inside). Using a large spatula, carefully place the fish packages directly on the hot baking sheet in the oven (you’ll hear them sizzle immediately) and bake for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the packages directly to plates so the diners can carefully open the packages at the table and enjoy the escaping aroma of the herb-scented fish.
Variation: Utilize other vegetables you may have on hand like thinly sliced zucchini, summer squash or broccoli. Remember that the fish cooks very quickly, so cut the vegetables into thin or small pieces to ensure that they’ll be tender when the fish is done. Other fish to substitute are salmon, cod, tilapia, ruby trout or rockfish.
Extra Hungry Kids? The best loaf of bread you can find, a plate of extra virgin olive oil, French grey sea salt and a few grinds of pepper would make this meal even more heavenly.
Adult Taste Buds? Top the children’s portions with vegetables then stir into the remaining vegetables 1 teaspoon rinsed and chopped capers and 8 chopped kalamata olives. Maybe some of your kids would like them mixed into their veggies as well.
In the glass: I’ve had white Côtes du Rhône with this meal and enjoyed it very much. Look for an affordable white like the “Parallel 45” Côtes du Rhône Villages from Jaboulet for balance and fresh acidity. For the kiddos, a Blue Ocean made with blue Gatorade cut with club soda and a gummy fish swimming at the bottom of the glass.