Seared halibut in ginger vinaigrette

Recipe by Leslie Brenner

This recipe is just thing for an elegant yet easy dinner for two, but you can double or triple it and invite friends – it's great for a dinner party, too. It's easy to overcook halibut, making it dense and hard. Searing it and finishing it in the oven gives you control, resulting in a beautiful silky texture. 

This vinaigrette is wonderful with seared or grilled fish of many different textures and tastes, including delicately flavored ones like snapper or scallops, more assertively flavored fish like mackerel, or others in-between like salmon, tuna or yellowtail. It would be lovely with shrimp, too –maybe skewered ones done on the grill. One average juicy lime (Persian, not key lime) yields a little more than a tablespoon of juice.

Serves 2.

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne

1 scallion (white and green parts), sliced thin

1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro plus a few cilantro leaves for garnish

2 six to seven ounce halibut fillets

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice, then whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the sesame oil. Add the scallion and chopped cilantro and stir to combine. 

Generously salt the halibut fillets and sprinkle them with white pepper. In a medium oven-proof skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the halibut fillets, skin-side up. Let them sear undisturbed for 4 minutes, then use a spatula to carefully turn them. Let them cook 2 1/2 minutes, then transfer the skillet to the oven for 3 minutes.

While they're finishing in the oven, give the vinaigrette a stir and spoon it onto two plates. Remove the fish from the oven, transfer the the fillets to the plates, and garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.