Halibut Sous Vide, Butter and Lime

This post is a bit of an experiment. I have noticed that when I post on a Friday, I get a bit of a bounce on the numbers. As my posting schedule (to call it a schedule is an insult to German train efficiency) has become a bit erratic of late, I thought I should try Friday again. If you are reading this on another day, the recipe is equally valid. It is not the first sous vide halibut I have done. It is the simplest and in my opinion, the tastiest by far.

Though, there is a bit of an issue with fish on Friday. This was driven in Ireland by the Catholic Church threatening its flock with eternal damnation should meat pass the lips on the last day of the working week. Rather than promoting the consumption of fish, it had the opposite effect. We resented having the scaly, smelly, slithery creatures inflicted on us. It has taken generations of progressively more enlightened Irish to push back the tide of oppression and to find delicious fish worthy of salivation and even preparation.

Deciding to cook some fine halibut to test the blog stats is really not relevant to my whinge against the oppression of the Irish people over generations as one would have had more chance of being offered dodo meat than halibut back in the 50s and 60s.

So, on with the meat of this fish cooking. I got a couple of nice thick halibut steaks and thought I might try it sous vide. My preparation was simplicity itself. 55º for 40 minutes seemed like a sensible way forward.

Great fish needs very few ingredients.

The first thing to do with halibut, no matter how you plan to cook it, is to remove the skin. Halibut has a really tough skin worthy of handbag manufacture, if you don’t mind the aroma.

I have a lovely ‘bendy’ knife specific to the task of skinning fish.

Cut your fish into serving sized portions. These are “Are you planning to eat all that on your own?” sized portions. However, when I am at the counter in the fishmonger, I always ask for a little more.

Halibut has a lovely translucency about it.

I salted the halibut for a couple of hours ahead of cooking.  Remember to wash off the salt before bagging it with some butter.

Any excuse for an action shot.

 I added butter to the fish in the bag before sealing and cooking at 55º for 40 minutes.

The butter adds a nice oiliness that makes the fish easier to slide onto the frying pan.

Remove the fish from the bag after cooking and cook it on a medium hot pan for about 3 minutes a side, enough to give it a nice crust. When you turn the fish (gently please), pop a knob of butter on top of the fish. Let it melt gently. If you get your timing right, it will have just about covered the fish as you serve. Give it a squeeze of lime as well. This is a very simple and delicious combination.

This is a truly delightful piece of fish.

I served it with a spicy pearl couscous mixture. It’s a great match for a great fish. Now, how are my Friday numbers doing?

Footnote on frying method: I have seen lovely white fish cooked sous vide and then finished in the pan with burnt butter. I don’t like the idea. Neither the colour or acrid taste improve the fish. This is a method that can be used to great effect with a robust steak of beef or venison. But not a delicate flavoured fish. 

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