During our trip to Barcelona, we had a great meal at La Paradeta, a seafood restaurant near the Sagrada Familia, where you pick your own fish at the counter, let the cooks know how you want it (fried or sauteed are your choices), pick your sauces, salads, and wine, and enjoy. One of the sauces we chose was romesco, which went very well with the fish we had. I’ve liked the pairing ever since, and look for every opportunity to make romesco sauce.
On my way home from work tonight I stopped by Eataly, the famed Mario Batali supermarket/restaurant/tourist attraction near Madison Square Park. Eataly is one of the pricier markets in the city, and above what I usually spend on groceries. However, it has a great, gorgeous, fabulous seafood counter that is worth the markup both for the variety and the freshness of the fish. It just so happened that two beautiful fillets of halibut were on display at the seafood counter this afternoon.
The pickiest eaters will appreciate the mild taste and firm texture of halibut – I’ve tested this on my husband, who will not go near anything that is overly fishy, spicy, sour, gamey, etc. It is also a great choice for a busy weeknight dinner when you don’t want to invest a lot of time into your meal.
2 halibut fillet portions (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 medium-sized tomato
1/2 cup husked toasted hazelnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 jar (14 ounces) fire-roasted red peppers
1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
Preheat a nonstick pan with a little olive oil (I use extra light tasting, not extra virgin, olive oil for frying) over medium-high heat. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, then flour, covering all sides. Add the fillets flesh side down and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
Try to resist the temptation to check the fillets before that time, because the fish will flake and fall apart. Once the fish is golden brown, carefully turn over to the skin side and cook for another 4 minutes or so, until the fish is opaque in the center.
Bring chicken stock to a boil, then pour over the couscous, add the Italian seasoning and let stand for five minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
For Romesco Sauce:
Pulse garlic in the food processor, then add hazelnuts and process until finely ground. Add the roast peppers, paprika, and tomato. Process until the ingredients form a smooth paste. Add salt and red wine vinegar. You can add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil if you like.
Serve with a simple salad. Ours was tomatoes with fresh mozarella, sliced sweet onions, and basil.
And there you have it – a United Nations of food on a plate (halibut, couscous, romesco, and salad)!