Ahhh, there is nothing quite like those first warm days of the season; that first meal prepared outside on the grill as the warmth of those first spring days fade to evening….with a black bear peering over your shoulder, perhaps. (Huh? A black bear?) Well – yesterday our local friendly policeman drove up my driveway to alert me that there was a black bear sighting very close to my house – a mere 100 or so feet from my comfy patio. I inquired of the policeman as to whether the little bear had a name should he arrive at my door. He chuckled and said not that he was aware. So we decided to name our bear ‘Coco’ just in case he appeared. I peered outside all evening in the hopes of spotting Coco but unfortunately he must have been slumbering contently after a meal of my neighbor’s bird food. This evening was simply splendid – warm and sunny – and called for that first meal cooked on the grill outside. I decided on a bit of fresh fish from the local market which I picked up on my way home from a meeting. As I headed outside, I remembered my friend Coco and wondered if he was anywhere nearby. As I grilled outside, I had visions of Coco peering over my shoulder ready to snatch my fish for dinner (and hopefully not me!). Luckily, Coco must either be visiting other neighbors or lumbering in other parts far away from my little patio. So dinner was luckily a beautifully peaceful affair filled with everything spring – except Coco.
The halibut looked wonderfully fresh at the market so I simply marinated the fish in a bit of wine, lemon and olive oil for about an hour and then topped with a very simple ‘salsa verde’ (a sort of a parsley pesto) and a few tiny early spring heirloom tomatoes from the market. ‘Salsa verde’ is a simple green sauce that highlights the freshness of the fish. The recipe I used was from one of my new favorite cookbooks, ‘Seafood alla Siciliana’ by Toni Lydecker. The book is a gorgeous collection of recipes that showcase the Sicilian passion for seafood – recipes gathered in the kitchens of Sicilians who have been celebrating the bounty from the sea for years and years. It is one of those cookbooks that is as much fun from which to read as it is to cook. I highly recommend this delightful book for your own bookshelf!
Grilled Halibut with Salsa Verde
Four halibut steaks
About 1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
(from ‘Seafood alla Siciliana’)
2 cups firmly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons salt-cured capers, soaked in water for several minutes and drained
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 or 2 anchovy fillets, cut into several pieces (I used 2)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped (optional – I did not use)
Chopped cherry tomatoes
1. Whisk together the wine, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over the halibut steaks and turn them to coat. Let them sit in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, turning occasionally. Take the fish out of the marinade and season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. While the fish is marinating, prepare the salsa verde: Combine the parsley, capers, garlic, and anchovy in a food processor bowl; process until the ingredients are chopped and well blended. Slowly pour the olive oil through the funnel while pulsing; pause once or twice to scrape the sides of the bowl. Season with salt and lemon juice, pulsing to blend. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl. Fold in the chopped egg (if using).
3. Heat the grill. Grill the steaks for a few minutes per side until you reach desired doneness. Be careful not to overcook!
4. Plate the fish steak on a warm plate. Drizzle the salsa verde over the halibut. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over the top. Serve any extra sauce on the side.
5. Buon appetito!