Friday, October 27, 2006

Poached Halibut

The large piece of halibut that Kalyn grilled the other day reminded my that I had a similar sized piece in the freezer. In fact, the use of cilantro in her recipe of Grilled Halibut with Garlic-Cilantro Sauce probably sub-consciously inspired the way I prepared this dish. Let's face it, good cooks often "channel" each other, so it should come as no surprise that many of us will come up with variations on a theme from time to time.

I've been poaching fish in this manner ever since I saw a recipe in Sunset Magazine more than 12 years ago. So long ago that I could not tell you the specific issue to save my life. Over the years I've changed it, using different ingredients that will enhance not only the poaching object, but will compliment the side dishes. This method is perfect for a fish like halibut that tends to dry out in the cooking process. The trick is to remove the pan from the heat and let it sit to "finish".

Poached Halibut
Inspired by Sunset Magazine with cilantro channeling from Kalyn Denny
1 large halibut filet cut into 4 serving-sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup chardonnay
juice from 2 oranges
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons cold butter, separated

In a skillet large enough to hold the halibut steaks, combine all of the ingredients, except the halibut and the butter, and bring to a boil.
When the liquid is boiling, carefully add the halibut steaks, lowering the heat to maintain a very low boil. Cover and let cook until the fish is just opaque inside but still springy to the touch, 4-5 minutes. You may have to gently turn the steaks if your poaching liquid does not cover the fish.
Immediately remove pan from the heat and let sit an additional 2 minutes or until the fish is cooked through but not dry. Remove the fish with a slotted spatula and keep warm.
Bring the poaching liquid to a high, rolling boil and reduce by 1/2 or more, 5 or so minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
Spoon some of the sauce over each piece of fish and serve.

I acompanied the fish with a spoonful of my recipe for Best Black Beans. The similarity of flavors used to prepare both these dishes are a great compliment to each other. So good and so good for you!


  1. Very delicious. I don't think I've had poached fish before. I'm saving your recipe!


  2. I agree with Paz, this sounds delicious. (Hey Paz, let's go visit Christine together and she can make this for us!) I am happy to provide cilantro channeling any time. Now I'm saving this recipe so you can give me some poached-fish channeling. I've had poached fish in restaurants and always loved it, but never made it myself. Perfect way to cook fish. When I worked at a fancy French restaurant in college, my very favorite dish was poached halibut with hollandaise sauce.

  3. Hi Paz, So good to hear from you! When you poach a fish you must put it on your blog. I'm so proud of your fearless cooking!

    Thanks Kalyn! Ditto for you too. The salmon is especially good cooked this way, although I don't think of salmon as particularly dry. And, YES! come on out here so I can cook for you both!


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