Thursday, 27 January 2011

Roast halibut with vinegar sauce

I made an executive decision last night that we were going to have fish. We hardly ever have fish, except the odd bit of squid for ceviche, because we both feel so strongly that one shouldn't eat it, because there's hardly any left in the sea. But I decided yesterday that it was time.

So I went to the world's least friendly fishmongers, who are - conveniently for me - located in North London. I have tried and tried and tried with those men and all I can say is that they are simply impervious to charm. So I don't bother smiling, or saying hello any more.

"What's newest in?" I said to a man with tattoos on his face, who may or may not be an actual fisherman, but is always in a foul mood.

"ALLIBUT" he said. 

"Okay," I sighed. "Two fillets please."

I handed over abaout £20,000 and left.

Anyway, things didn't go that smoothly with the dinner as a whole. There was quite a lot of dropping things and swearing coming out of the kitchen. I won't bore you with what went wrong, because hearing about a series of cooking fuck-ups - unless they are REALLY BAD - is about as interesting as hearing about a bad tube journey.

But the actual fish and the sauce I made up to go with it, against all the odds, turned out very well. So I'm going to tell you about the fish as I ought to have done it.

So here we go:

Roast halibut with vinegar sauce
for 2

2 fillets hallibut
50g butter
1 sloop groundnut oil (about 2 tbs)
1/2 sloop olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp capers, rinsed
scattering of parsley (if you have it, don't go out specially for it)
1 glass shitty white wine
3 bay leaves - if you have

1 Preheat your oven to 220C. On a board, skin-side up, season the fish generously with salt and pepper.

2 Put a roasting tin, big enough to take your fish, on the hob and in it melt the butter and oils together. Add the bay leaves and heat until foaming.

3 Add the fish - skin-side down - and cook for 2 minutes. Then flip the fish over so it's now skin-side up and put in the oven for 7 minutes. It ought to be cooked by then but you'll have to be the best judge.

4 After this time, remove the fish somewhere to keep warm. This is the tricky part because for some reason fish goes stone cold really quickly. I am incredibly spoilt and have a double oven. If you don't, you could try leaving the fish on dish, pre-heated in your 220C oven, and then cover it with foil.

5 Put the roasting tin back on the hob, pour in your glass of shitty white wine and let it bubble down - (careful because it will spit everywhere, it got me in the eye from about 3 feet away) - for about 3 mins, stirring occasionally.

When this looks like it has reduced a bit, turn the heat right down and add a long sloop of cream (about 5 tbs), the vinegar and the capers. Here I also added some broccoli cooking water to lengthen the sauce, but you could just as well add a few dribbles from the kettle.

6 Cook this all round for a bit over a gentle heat and then at the last minute scatter over some parsley if using.  


  1. I think you may go to the same fishmonger as I. Essex Road? Or maybe it is just a rule that they have to be rude fuckers. I lived in Whitstable for years (spiritual home of fishmongers?) and would buy fish every week. Every sodding week for 3 years I would go to the SAME fishmongers and do you I got a cheery 'hello!'? Did I fuck. I thought about taking it personally but then realized they were fishmongers and fishmongers are, by law, miserable bastards. The end.
    Oh yeah, the original point of my comment was that the dish looks very nice. xx

  2. I was going to suggest the one Kate just did. They're a bunch of sulking assholes but they've got some great fish there.

    So? Is it them?

  3. No, not them. Further North. I didn't know it was a thing that fishmongers were all so grumpy. Butchers by comparison are usually jolly old souls.

  4. I count myself lucky then. The chaps in my local fishmonger in Southend are cheery souls (or should that be soles) :)

    Now butchers - they're another thing altogether in my experience most of them cannot be arsed to give any info. They give a sarcastic chuckle if you ask anything.

    Your dish looks delish. ps Good luck with your baby

  5. Fish Fuck-Up's could be an adult version of Fish Fingers... you're so right though, we also should eat more fish but I feel guilty about it... it's a fishy conundrum I tells ya.

  6. You haven't met a grumpy fishmonger until you've paid a visit to Covent Garden Fishmongers in Chiswick. A bunch of absolute DICKS. But I keep going back, like a seafood-loving sadist.

  7. I see an opening in the market for happy, friendly non-dick fishmongers. Not having ever come across one I wouldn't know where to find the staff, but it's a great idea.
    I love the blog Esther.