Grilled Halibut, and an Undiscovered Gem from Marcella

We have a new fish supplier who delivers excellent fresh fish to customers, using a local apple orchard store as a drop off location on Thursdays. Best of all, it’s a mile and a quarter from our house. Today was my first pickup. The choice for tonight’s dinner was halibut.

We have dozens of ways to prepare halibut, but tonight I was looking for a simple preparation. I decided to grill it, since this was one of the few days above freezing in the past week. The other reason is that my wife is easily distressed by cooking smells, so using the gas grill on our porch is a good way to keep the fish smells out of the house.

My CFO (Chief Fish Officer), Chris, had taught me the best way to grill halibut and keep it moist at the same time. I rubbed a little lemon juice on the fish, sprinkled it with Kosher salt and ground pepper, and then smeared a thin layer of a mixture of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard on the side without the skin. After preheating the grill on high heat, I placed the fish with the mayonnaise/mustard on the grill, and then turned it once, when the first side was done.

Another important step was to find an exciting potato dish to accompany the fish. Looking for something brand new to me, I searched Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, and I discovered a recipe of hers I had never seen before: Baked potatoes, onions, and tomatoes – Apulian style. It was a perfect way to use a bunch of cherry tomatoes that were getting over-ripe, and it added flavor and color to the meal. I particularly enjoyed the surprise of seeing a recipe from Puglia, in the South of Italy — not a region featured often in Marcella’s many great cookbooks.

The last step was to select the right vegetables for the plate. Zucchini? Carrots? No…I decided on frozen peas. The bright color and sweetness was just the right partner here.

The meal was preceded by bowls of Leek and Potato Soup, finished with Maras pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil.

The wine was from even further south, Sicily. It was a Valenti l’innesto, a white wine made from red grapes — Nerello Mascalese. Imported by Mucci Wines, and perfectly delicious.

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