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Poached Halibut with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pesto, and Zucchini

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 123

A sun-dried tomato and lemongrass broth makes a fragrant seasoning for the halibut, and a garlicky basil pesto and sautéed zucchini round out the dish.

  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 2 medium stalks lemongrass, halved crosswise and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 5- to 6-oz. skinless halibut fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 4 quart-size Ziploc storage or freezer bags
  • 2 lightly packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 small cloves garlic, peeled, 1 minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into medium dice (2 cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Have ready a large bowl of ice water. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, lemongrass, 2 tsp. salt, and 1-3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt. Transfer to a medium bowl and set over the bowl of ice water. Stir frequently until chilled, 10 to 15 minutes. Put 1 halibut fillet in each bag. Divide the broth (including the tomatoes and lemongrass) among the 4 bags. Seal the bags, pressing out as much air as possible, and gently massage the fish to coat it all over. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to season the fish.

Meanwhile, put the basil, the 3 whole cloves garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a food processor and pulse to a coarse paste. With the motor running, slowly pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil through the feed tube and process until emulsified.

Fill a 4-quart pot with 3 inches of water and clip a deep-fat, probe, or instant-read thermometer to the side of the pot. Heat the water slowly over low heat to 140°F, about 15 minutes. Put the bags of fish in the water (the tops of the bags can stick out) and cook, maintaining a water temperature of 135°F to 145°F, until the center of the fish registers 130°F to 135°F on an instant-read thermometer (open the bags to check), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the bags to a rimmed baking sheet and let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is barely tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the zucchini among 4 dinner plates. Using scissors, snip off one corner of each bag and drain and discard the liquid. Open each bag and cut down the center perpendicular to the seal to expose the fish. Using a spatula, lift the fish from the bags and place on the plate with the zucchini. Discard the lemongrass; rinse and thinly slice the tomatoes crosswise. Serve the fish and the zucchini with the pesto and tomatoes.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the pesto up to 4 hours ahead; cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto its surface.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 370; Fat (g): fat g 24; Fat Calories (kcal): 210; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3.5; Protein (g): protein g 32; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 7; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 220; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 45; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This was an amazingly flavorful and super easy dish to make. I used slow oven roasted tomatoes instead of sun-dried (don't care for them and had the other in the fridge), fresh lemongrass from our plant. I spaced so the fish marinated for 6 hours. It was still firm but wonderfully moist and full of flavor. I did use the quart Ziploc bags in a medium sauté pan. I used my own recipe for the pesto (Pine Nuts and Pistachios Basil, Parmesan, etc.) since I had some made. I would suggest doubling the amount of the zucchini and garlic. This would be great with any fresh white firm fish similar to halibut. Definitely a keeper.

Does the author not understand that poaching in a plastic bag will transfer the chemicals in the plastic to the fish? Season the fish in the fridge in a covered dish. Then poach the easy traditional way... make the broth and place fish in a stainless steel sauce pan, pour broth over, cover and heat at low until water temp of 140 degrees and center of fish 135 degrees, 12-15 minuets. Same delicious taste and No cancer causing chemicals cooked into the fish. Otherwise this looks like a delicious recipe!

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