Pan-Seared Halibut With Avocado Risotto
I am a seafood lover. I never say no to a fish option when I can get it but and it’s a big but, I have very little experience and confidence when called on to make a seafood dish. I tend to stick to seafood that I do feel comfortable with like pan seared seafood for fish tacos or curry and probably the easiest of the bunch - shrimp. I’m always up for a challenge and when I got the opportunity to cook from The Wickanninish cookbook, although a little intimidating, I ended up choosing a fish dish that was actually quite simple to make and thought it would be the perfect one to share with my followers.
The halibut is perfectly tender and flakes away in beautifully huge chunks. It’s simple to make because it requires very little work. Basically salt and pepper, a good sear on either side and then into a pre-heated oven for a few minutes to finish cooking. Halibut is definitely not the most inexpensive fish out there but according to my parents who feasted on it - it’s worth every penny. They enjoyed this dish on the whole and so did I.
Along with the fish, I was actually pleasantly surprised that my parents loved loved loved the avocado risotto. My mom is of the rare kind that actually doesn’t like avocados and that’s why I was surprised she loved the risotto. We on the other hand loved it and I know you will too. I knew it would be fabulous when I saw the recipe and knew this was the recipe to share as I know most of you love avocados as much as I do. Risotto in general is creamy and delicious - add avocado, cheese and butter and you get yourself a whole other level of rich creaminess.
There is one thing that I did change in the risotto recipe though. I swapped out the morels with fresh crimini mushrooms because I couldn’t find any morels - dry or fresh. I’m sure any other earthy flavoured mushroom do. The risotto was still fabulous without them but definitely use the morels if you have access to them.
It’s a well balanced delicious meal that I served up with some steamed buttery green beans and a garden salad with lemon wedges for the halibut and we throughly enjoyed it! I will definitely be making the risotto again and again and of course the halibut as well. The halibut seems light in seasoning and that is quite alright. It’s a buttery flavourful fish to begin with that will be overshadowed with too much seasoning - just like a great steak would be too with more than salt pepper and a good compound butter if ya know what I mean.
If you are not a fish fan still make the risotto. You will love it and will wonder why you never thought to add avocado to your risotto before. I can’t wait to explore the rest of the seafood recipes in the book and the rest of the recipes in general. One day I may get to the actual scenic hotel and restaurant myself and enjoy freshly caught and cooked seafood and dine with the beautiful view of the pacific. One can dream.
For the risotto
- 4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 1 cup (200 g) uncooked arborio rice
- ½ cup (35 g) chopped fresh morels (or dried and reconsti- tuted with hot water)
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 Tbsp (30 g) butter
- ¼ cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
- 1 Tbsp (3 g) chopped chives Salt and cracked black pepper
For the halibut
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil, plus additional for garnish
- 4 fillets fresh halibut, 5 oz (140 g) each
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Make the risotto: In a small pot, bring the stock to a simmer and keep it hot while you cook the risotto.
- In an 8-cup (2 L) saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they are tender and translucent; continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and onion mixture. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until the rice is opaque.
- Stir ½ cup (125 mL) of the hot chicken stock into the rice mixture. Cook and stir until the broth is absorbed, maintaining the rice mixture at a gentle simmer. Continue cooking and adding the remaining stock, ½ cup (125 mL) at a time, stirring the rice mixture after each addition.
- After about 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, still adding stock whenever it begins to look dry, until the stock has all been absorbed. The rice should be cooked but still firm in texture. Stir in the avocado, butter, cheese, and chives.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In the last few minutes of cooking time for the risotto, prepare the halibut: In a 12-inch (30 cm) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper. Place the halibut fillets in the skillet and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the halibut is golden brown.
- Using a spatula, flip the halibut fillets over and place in the oven, still in the skillet. Continue cooking for about 4 more minutes or until the halibut is cooked. The fish should flake easily when pressed with a fork, but should still be slightly translucent in the centre.
- Divide the risotto between four dinner plates. Top the risotto with the halibut and drizzle the plate with some olive oil.
Excerpted from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge by Joanne Sasvari. Copyright © 2018 Wickaninnish Inn. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.