Because A. J.’s Fine Foods had halibut on sale for $15.99 a pound, I bit. Isn’t that a gorgeous pound of fish?
And while I was there, I noticed some plump shiitake mushrooms, big ones, so now I was beginning to picture my Saturday evening dinner.
Grilled halibut, marinated in a sherry mustard vinaigrette with a shiitake ragout (just a fancy name for sauteed veggies). Oh, and don’t forget the caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs from my garden.
All of it would sit atop fresh baby spinach, dressed in the same sherry vinaigrette I used to marinate the halibut.
I know you’re supposed to whisk the vinegar and other flavorings together before you slowly drizzle in the olive oil in an effort to create an emulsion, but I like to use little glass jars I’ve saved.
I just put some whole grain mustard in the jar with some minced garlic, some thyme leaves, a little salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Always a little something sweet in my vinaigrettes, just to take the edge off.
I’ll shake up the flavorings, and then I’ll pour in a little oil and shake. A little more oil and another shake, and repeat until I’ve used all the oil. It might not create the most emulsified emulsion, but it works for me, and shaking is a whole lot more fun than whisking, don’t you think? Pour a couple tablespoons over the halibut and give a little rub. It can sit at room temperature while you forge ahead.
Now caramelize the onions in a little olive oil. I was in a bit of a rush, so I turned up the heat, which is why the onions are caramelizing unevenly. Chef Hutchins, my saucier culinary instructor, would be mortified. We won’t tell him.
Throw the mushrooms in when the onions are getting nice and caramelized. After the mushrooms are tender, you can stir in the garlic.
Once that’s fragrant, then you can deglaze the pan with a little sherry. I like Dry Sack. You could just use the sherry vinegar, but that will add a bit of a twang.
OK, it’s time to get that grill going. Medium-high heat for searing.
Now we need a little red for the dish. I scraped the mushroom mixture into a bowl and used the same pan to saute up some chopped grape tomatoes with the fresh herbs from my garden.
Pretty sure I’d be washing up the pan anyway, so why use another pan? For the record, those tomatoes wouldn’t mind a little drink of sherry, either.
Now it’s time to grill the halibut. I cut the original fillet in half. One end was monsterously thick, the other, just plain ole thick, so I knew one of them would be spending a little more time in the incubator.
I grilled them flesh side down, creating grill marks, for about 3 minutes. Then I turned them, skin side down, and turned off just the burner below them to finish cooking with indirect heat. It took about 8 more minutes for the thick one, and 10 minutes for the monster thick one. Then off the grill to rest a bit before plating.
Oh, I removed the skin before I put them on top of the salad. Actually, the grill removed them. The skin was stuck to the grill because I forgot to oil them. C’est la vie.
And so the final dish looks like this: Spinach salad with sherry mustard grilled halibut, topped with sherry glazed shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions, with herbed grape tomatoes and orange segments.
Just because I had an orange and it was time to use it.
The whole dish took just about an hour from start to finish.