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Chinese Five-Spice Halibut with Pickled Red Pepper & Ginger

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Serves four.

If you can, choose square, compact fillets for this recipe instead of longer, narrower ones. They’re easier to maneuver in the pan.

For the pickle
  • 2/3 cup very thinly sliced red bell pepper (from about half a pepper)
  • 1/2 Tbs. peeled and very finely julienned ginger (from a knob about 1/2 x 1-1/2 inches)
  • 1 tsp. peanut, vegetable, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. plain seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 scallion, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-1/2-inch lengths, and thinly slivered lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
For the spice rub:
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. five-spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
For the fish:
  • 4 skinless halibut fillets (about 6 oz. each)
  • 3 Tbs. peanut, vegetable, or grapeseed oil

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Make the pickle: In a heatproof bowl, stir together the bell pepper and ginger. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the garlic and stir until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, mirin, and 2 Tbs. water and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the red pepper and ginger and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Make the spice rub: In a small bowl, mix the spice rub ingredients. Use your fingertips to blend the zest well with the spices.

Sear-roast the fish: Coat all sides of the halibut fillets with the rub and set on a plate. Heat the oil in a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the halibut fillets evenly in the pan, skinned side up. Sear for about 2 minutes, without moving; then use a slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. (Note: watch carefully so the sugar in the rub doesn’t burn. If necessary, reduce the heat.) When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and put the pan in the oven.

Roast until the halibut is just cooked in the middle, 5 to 6 minutes. (If your fillets are thick, check again that the sugar in the rub does not burn while the fish is in the oven. You can turn the fish on one or both edges to avoid burning the rub.) Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the halibut to serving plates.

Drain the pickled red pepper and ginger, discarding the liquid, and toss with the scallion and sesame oil in a small bowl. Top each portion of halibut with some of the pickle and serve.

Drink Suggestions

Look for a crisp, slightly sweet Riesling like the 2006 Fritz Haag Estate Riesling from Mosel ($18).

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 310; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 2.5; Protein (g): 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 6; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 520; Cholesterol (mg): 55; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Excellent flavor and easy to make. The pickled red pepper and ginger is a standout accompaniment to the halibut.

I make this all the time. It is excellent. I always get raves from guests. The pan searing technique is perfect!

I have made this many times and love the recipe just as is. Company worthy, healthy, fresh, delicious. I have served it with a sautee of pea pods, snow peas and peppers in lots of fresh chopped garlic and ginger, with a splash of tamari and some dark sesame oil at the end.

I didn't love the five spice rub. It seemed a bit strong for me. But we thought the pickled red pepper/ginger relish was great. I added some cilantro to the relish just before serving.

This was so tasty and very easy! I used salmon instead of halibut. I followed the recipe exactly - next time I will add some julienned carrots to the pepper/ginger mix - for color and extra nutrition. I served this over steamed jasmine rice and sauteed shiitake mushrooms --yumm. For wine... a dry reisling from australia - yumm!

I loved this spice rub and I think I'll use it a lot. The pickled red pepper and ginger needed something. I haven't figured out what.

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