Monday, 10 September 2012

Foil Baked Halibut Steaks with Samphire, Sliced Potatoes and Olive Paste

I had an appointment with my chiropractor last Friday which meant that I was going to be close to the infamous SJ Hatt’s fishmonger on Essex Road. With that in mind I decided that I would get some red mullet in order to try out a Jose Pizarro recipe that I’ve wanted to do now for absolutely ages... BUT bloody disaster! No red mullet to be had. Chatting with the very friendly fishmonger, it turns out that Steve (Hatt) is extremely particular (good) about what he buys and if the fish isn’t 100% up to scratch, he won’t get any. The majority of the good stuff goes abroad it seems and for a while now, that left over just hasn’t cut the mustard.

So, slightly disappointed, I opted instead for two huge hailbut steaks, the cutting of which brought out at least another two guys from the back to ooh and aah over what a magnificent fish it is and how, one of them at least, could quite happily eat nothing but for the rest of their days. This was all making me feel slightly better about the lack of mullet... there was also a nice big pile of vibrantly green samphire which I bought a large handful of. It’s not something that I see very often so jumped at the chance at having a nice, crisp sea vegetable accompaniment.

I still had the José recipe in mind so took the olive paste idea from that. And as we sat down to eat I was no longer in the least bit disappointed - overall I felt it was a bit of a triumph: the meaty, yet clean and delicate perfectly white fish, the evocative taste of the sea from the samphire, and the olive oil rich slices of potatoes enlivened by a smear of black olive paste all came together pretty much perfectly. Delicious.

Foil Baked Halibut Steaks with Samphire, Sliced Potatoes and Olive Paste
serves 2

2 large halibut steaks
1 lemon, sliced
3 sprigs thyme
10 chives
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium potato, peeled
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
15 Kalamata black olives, pitted
sea salt & black pepper
150g samphire, washed and drained
knob of butter

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Slice the potatoes fairly thinly and evenly - use a mandolin if you have one, but do remember to use the guard to prevent nearly slicing the top off your finger: note to self! Arrange the potato slices on a large baking tray.

Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the chopped garlic and picked leaves from one of the sprigs of thyme. Season, then toss everything together and rearrange so that the potatoes are in a single layer again.

Pop in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a roasting tin with foil both width and lengthways (you will be making a parcel). Pour a healthy amount of olive oil and place the halibut steaks, side by side, on top. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the steaks and then arrange the lemon slices over followed by a sprig of thyme on each steak and scatter 6 of the chives over too.

Make a loose parcel out of the foil around the steaks and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes until until the flesh has turned opaque and is just starting to flake. Be careful though as they can dry out quite easily.

While the fish and potatoes are cooking blitz the olives, remaining chives and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a foiod processor or grinder to make a thick pureé.

Cook the samphire in boiling water (not salted as teh samphire will be naturally salty enough), drain and then toss in a knob of butter.

To serve, spread some samphire across the middle of two plates. Arrange the steaks, with the lemon slices but minus the herbs on top and place the potato slices around that, dotted with a little of the olive paste. You can have the rest of the olive paste on the table to help yourself if so decided.

Eat up and enjoy!

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