Tastes Like Chicken. Only Better.
So the thing I’m beginning to learn about cooking is, it has a flow.
Like the progression of a really good date from the opening of the car door, to the perfect restaurant ambiance, to the nice, slow dance of the will-we-or-won’t-we first kiss, it’s all about timing.
Perfect, delectable, I-can’t-believe-it-worked-out-like-that timing.
As with any true Domestiphobe, sometimes my timing is spot-on (because I’m a perfectionist), and other times it’s… not.
And I’m just going to say, the dinner I made last night was tricky to time. It was one of those simple meals that looks fancy and feels like it should take a while to make, but is actually deceivingly quick to come together. Too quick. Like, twenty-minutes-before-Justin-gets-home quick.
So, I’m going to share in mostly blurry photos, to the best of my ability, the sequence in which this simple-yet-fancy-looking-and-tasting dinner should be prepared. But you should probably start preparing it only about 15 minutes before you’re actually ready to eat it.
Consider yourself warned.
I made this fancy, schmancy halibut picatta with capers (from A Sweet Pea Chef — her photography is amaaaazing). Halibut picatta is like the chicken picatta you see at restaurants, except with halibut. Which is a fish. A delicious fish. But, truth be told, it’s pretty expensive. At least around these parts. So when I make this recipe again, I will likely use a less expensive white fish, like tilapia or cod. However, if you’re dealing with someone who’s picky about seafood tasting like seafood, I’d recommend the halibut. Because it’s meaty, like chicken. Except it’s fish.
I varied from the original recipe only slightly, because I was impatient and ended up cooking frozen halibut fillets instead of thawed fillets. I’ll let you know where the change-up happens.
Before you can begin the first date flow process of preparing this recipe, you need to assemble your cast of characters. I don’t just do this for blogging purposes — it really does make it easier to jive in the kitchen when everything is ready at your fingertips. You will need:
- 1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus
- 2 whole 6-ounce Halibut Fillets, Skinned (I used a package of frozen, boneless fillets)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Divided
- 3 cloves Garlic, Chopped
- ½ cup Dry White Wine (I just used a cheapo, open bottle of chardonnay)
- 2 Tablespoons Capers
- ½ whole Fresh Lemon, Zest And Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, Chopped
- Kosher Salt To Taste
- Ground Black Pepper To Taste
Now, for the flow.
Get about 1/2 cup of water boiling in a pot on the stove. You’ll be using this to steam the asparagus.
Also, in a separate non-stick skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the butter melt (watch it so it doesn’t burn).
While you’re kind of watching your butter, quickly chop off the tough, thick ends of the asparagus. Just don’t chop off your fingers because you’re too busy watching the butter. You’d regret that.
If the butter has melted, go ahead and plop your 2 halibut fillets into the pan. Whether you’re using thawed or frozen fillets, you want to brown this first side for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top.
If the water in the pot is boiling, go ahead and add the asparagus. Turn the heat down to low, close the lid tightly, and let the asparagus steam for 7-10 minutes. Set a timer if you’re easily distracted.
Once the halibut has cooked for 3 minutes, flip ’em over. They should be lightly browned on the first side. Now. Here’s where I differ because my fillets were frozen. If you’re using thawed fillets, just cook them for about another 3 minutes on the flip side. If you’re using frozen fillets, stick a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low (still watching to make sure the butter doesn’t burn), and cook for 6-7 minutes until tender and flaky.
Using a lid on frozen fillets will help them cook through. You could use a much smaller pan that this — unfortunately, this is the only non-stick pan I have with a lid.
While the fish finishes cooking, chop the garlic, parsley, and zest 1/2 the lemon.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate that super cute curl of smoke above the pan, shall we?
Who knew steam could be cute?
When the fish is cooked, set the fillets aside on a plate. Turn your heat back up in your butter/oil pan, and add the chopped garlic. Let it sizzle for about a minute — it will smell heavenly.
Then pour in about 1/2 cup of white wine.
Aren’t you proud I didn’t pour it directly from my glass this time?
Turn the heat to medium and let everything reduce for 5-10 minutes. Now would probably be a good time to check your asparagus. When you remove the lid, you’ll notice it’s turned this amazing, vibrant shade of green.
Use a fork and bite into one. If it’s still super crunchy, put the lid back on and give it a few more minutes. If it’s steamed to the consistency you like, remove the pot from the heat and push the lid slightly to the side to keep them warm.
Meanwhile, back in the pan, you can turn off the heat. Add your remaining tablespoon of butter and lemon zest…
…juice from 1/2 a lemon…
…2 tablespoons of capers (you can find jars of these little green ball things near the pickles at the grocery store)…
…and tablespoon (or so) of chopped parsley.
Stir everything together until the butter has melted. Now would be a good time to taste it. If it tastes super lemony, add a bit more butter. If you’d like more lemon flavor, use the other half of your lemon for more juice. Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper as well.
To make this look super fancy, just lay a bunch of asparagus on a plate, top with a halibut fillet, then spoon your sauce over the top.
Notice you can add a couple of lemon slices to make it look not just fancy, but fancy schmancy.
I’d say this is the perfect thing for a Domestiphobe to serve if you’re looking to impress someone, because it’s a lot easier to make than it looks.
And we kind of thrive on that sort of thing.
Just don’t — you know — serve it 20 minutes before that someone gets home.
I’m pretty sure I make these mistakes so you can learn from them. It gives me purpose.
And so, it turns out, does halibut.
I’d probably also end up finishing it early, being very proud of myself if it looked anything like it does in your photo, and then being decidedly grumpy because I seriously dislike cold food. Thank you for sharing!
I guess you’d just have to eat your share before waiting for the other person to get home. I mean, hey — just because they didn’t make it home in time to enjoy the wonderful — hot — meal you prepared, shouldn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy it yourself. ;)
Yum! This looks amazing! Timing is a tricky thing. Lucky for me, the hubs works from the basement, so I can just holler down that dinner’s ready. You may not have the timing down, but you get an A++ on the food styling. Gorgeous pic! Thanks for sharing.
Why, thank you! I went the extra mile this time and added a little garnish in the way of lemon slices. I guess it does make a difference in presentation! And something tells me that even if you had to worry about timing, you’d still get it right. ;)
1. i’m a total spaz when i’m cooking. i never estimate things right and i’m always freaked out something will be done too soon or too late. it’s a stressful affair for me. i’m a RECIPE follower, like, to the T. It’s part of the whole perfectionist thing.. ugh.
2. i hate fish. but, if i substituted chix, that would be splendid indeed.
Normally, I’ve been the exact same way with cooking. Now, I still follow recipes, but I don’t freak anymore if something doesn’t go exactly right because instead of just reading the recipes and going through the actions, I’ve started paying attention and learning how to troubleshoot if something doesn’t work out. It’s crazy!
I know you probably hate it when people don’t just take, “I hate fish” for what it is, but if you ever have the opportunity, you should try halibut. It just doesn’t taste like fish. It’s like softer chicken. (But yeah… way more expensive.)
Thanks for sharing! That looks delicious! And I usually under-estimate how long things take and my guests/sig other show up and I’m nowhere near ready… and that always seems like the time I forgot to prepare any sort of appetizer for them to munch on while they wait!
Oh, that has happened to me plenty — both the mis-timing and forgetting stuff all-together. The good news with either of those mishaps is that people are so happy to eat when you finally give them food, that it doesn’t even matter anymore how it tastes — they’re going to eat and love it no matter what. ;)
That looks delicous! Your camera is great – you take the absolute best pictures of food. I’m going to consult you when I get a new camera :)
Why, thank you! You’re getting a DSLR? Matthew knows a lot about ’em, too. :)
Ha. Had to Google what DSLR even is :) Yeah my camera sucks – I need a new camera. I know NOTHING about cameras! Not even how much to budget. So I will be coming to you for more info soon :)
Haha! Yeah… let me know. Though I might recommend a point-and-shoot. They make some really fantastic ones these days. :)
Another great recipe. The last time I had halibut it was deep fried with a order of deep fried potatoes aka french fries… this looks not only yummy …but a healthier yummy.
Well there’s definitely some butter and oil and stuff in this, but yeah… I’d definitely say healthier than deep fried. Though I’m sure that was delicious! ;)