Pacific Halibut in a Sicilian Sauce
Sometimes this is called pesce spada all ghiotta, sometimes alla stemperata. Regardless of the name, it's that offbeat Sicilian combo of[ garlic, pine nuts, raisins, capers and olives, sometimes combined with tomatoes, and sometimes not, that seduces me every time.]
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1-inch thick) Pacific halibut fillet (about 8 ounces)
- About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, optional
- 2 tablespoons green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons raisins, plumped in hot water
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly oil a baking dish that will accommodate the fish fillet. On a flat plate, stir together the flour with a little salt and pepper, then dredge the fish in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess.
In a saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon oil, or as needed to form a film in the pan, over medium-high heat. Saute the fish on both sides until lightly colored. With a slotted spatula, remove the fish to the prepared baking dish.
In the same saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft and pale gold, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, if using, and simmer for 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the olives, pine nuts, raisins, capers, garlic, and wine and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Ladle the sauce over the fish. Bake until the fish tests done with the point of a knife, about 10 minutes. Eat while hot or warm.
Variation: You can also make this dish in a saute pan. Just place the sauteed fish in the sauce in the pan, cover, and simmer gently over low heat until the fish cooked through, about 10 minutes.
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