Sometimes the most interesting creations are accidents.  This recipe is not the one I intended to write, and yet it is now one of my favorites, a discovery I made thanks to the uniform bags I buy bulk goods in, and the remarkable resemblance of flour to powdered sugar.  I was in a hurry, things got mixed up, and…voila! A new fish preparation is revealed.  The combination of sweet and savory is found in nearly all world cuisines, and yet gives unexpected depth to this dish.  If you’re not feeling adventurous, go ahead and use flour like I had originally intended.  If you’re up for something new (and wonderful), follow this recipe.

You will need:

  • 1 lb. (fresh or thawed) skinless, boneless white fish – halibut or cod are both excellent
  • a handful of powdered sugar
  • 2 lemons, one zested
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups strong vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Greek olives; kalamatas or mixed green olives are good
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • olive oil
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse the fish under cold running water.  Dust a plate with the powdered sugar, and then dredge the fish, coating it lightly but completely on both sides.
2.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet.  Add the garlic and sautee until golden.  Place the fish over the garlic and sear it well, so the sugar browns on both sides.  Season liberally with salt, pepper, and a shake of cayenne (optional).
3.  Before the fish is cooked through, remove the skillet from heat and douse the fish with the juice of two lemons.  Toss the lemon wedges or halves in with the fish, and pour the broth into the pan until the level of the liquid comes most of the way up the fish.
4.  Sprinkle with chopped olives and bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes with a fork.  Serve immediately.
I served this with rice that I’d steamed with lemon zest, oregano, and pepper; I caramelized an onion and added some cashews at the last minute to warm them, then covered the rice in the onions and nuts.  We had a simple salad on the side: coarsely chopped greens with onions and gorgonzola cheese, and a sharp lemon vinaigrette.  Warmed coriander pita finished it off, and was perfect for swabbing up the sauce from the fish.


Oven-poached Halibut with Lemons and Olives
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