Roasted Halibut over a Potato Bed


I live in a small city in Southern California, 90 miles equidistant from San Diego and Los Angeles, towards the Coachella Valley Dessert. Let’s say that I live in the country and sometimes I want to eat like if I’m in Paris or New York or Caracas (where we usually show off about our cosmopolitan gastronomy.)

When I started Savoir Faire, one of my goals was to show that you don’t need to expend a fortune or go to fancy places to enjoy the pleasures of the palate. Today’s recipe, which was last night’s dinner, proves this point.

This halibut served over a bed of crushed potatoes, topped with diced tomatoes and sweet and sour shallots and garnished with toasted almonds, is the kind of dish that is a meal by itself. It is also the kind of recipe that when I cook it, I think: “My favorite restaurant is my kitchen.”

This recipe is from The Balthazar Cookbook, which I bought a few years ago. This is not the typical brasserie dish but a ‘souvenir’ from the times in which Balthazar’s chefs, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, worked with super star chef Daniel Boulud.

It is also different from those recipes that you will usually find here. To prepare it you need to plan a little bit in advance and put together three different recipes: the crushed potatoes, the sweet and sour shallots with tomatoes and the fish. But if you get organized and go one step at a time, you will be able to assemble the pieces of this wonderful puzzle together in just one and a half hours.

While the fish is absolutely white and mellow in texture and flavor, the potatoes provide a “neutral” yet tasty bed. The sweet and sour shallots and tomato mixture adds color and a sharp flavor, while the toasted almonds give the final crunchy touch. Here is the recipe!

Roasted Halibut over a Potato Bed | Ingredients for 4 portions
2 cups of crushed potatoes (see the recipe here)
6 Tbs. of sweet and sour shallots (see the recipe here)
6 Tbs. of olive oil
3 large tomatoes peeled (see how here), seeded and diced
½ cup of fresh flat parsley leaves
4 halibut fillets, about 6 ounces each
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup of blanched almonds, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 3 minutes, until they are fragrant. Set aside. Rinse the fish and pat it with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat a non stick sauté pan over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat until it begins to smoke. Sear the fish 2 minutes each side and set aside. Repeat until the 4 fillets are done. In an oven dish, put the fish in the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, combine the rest of the olive oil, tomatoes and sweet and sour shallots. Set over low heat until they are warm. Swirl the parsley.

Heat the crushed potatoes in a double boiler (bain Marie). You can also heat them in a microwave. Spread the potatoes on a dish. Lay the halibut over the potato bed and spoon the warm tomato and shallot sauce. Garnish with the almonds.

To print the recipe click here.

                                                                                                          Photo: Balthazar

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