Top | Margarett Waterbury
Broiled Halibut with Whole-Spice Rhubarb Chutney
(recipe, Margarett Waterbury)
Though it boasts a terrific firm texture and a beautiful snow-white color, I have occasionally found halibut a little bland. Elusive childhood memories of halibut-cheek kebabs at the Southeast Alaska State Fair — hot and juicy and dripping with lemon and the soft heat of black pepper — are rarely matched by the good-but-not-earth-shattering halibut we usually get down here in the Pacific Northwest.
Whatever halibut you can get your hands on, this chutney is the perfect complement for its delicate, sweet flavor. Springy, astringent rhubarb is anchored by the dark fruity richness of the figs, and the spices are present without being overbearing. I especially like the contrast of the meaty, slightly chewy texture of the halibut with the soft and gently aromatic chutney.
Leftover chutney is good on turkey sandwiches and chicken breasts.
- 2 whole green cardamom pods
- ½ star anise pod
- 1 whole clove
- 1 pinch toasted cumin seeds (powdered cumin can be used instead, and added directly to the chutney)
- 1 dried red chile, or a pinch of red-pepper flakes
- A 1-inch section of cinnamon stick
- 1 small peeled and crushed garlic clove
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar or other fruit vinegar (raspberry vinegar would be delicious here)
- 12 oz. rhubarb, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 4 dried figs, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 12 oz. halibut
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 scallion, minced
- Remove the halibut from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. (Fish that is room temperature cooks through much more evenly, and more quickly.)
- Make the chutney: Place the seasonings in a tea infuser or small mesh bag. (Alternatively, you can just throw them in the pot and fish them out at the end, but the clove in particular can be difficult to find.) Combine the sugar, vinegar, and seasoning sachet in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Over low heat, gently dissolve the sugar. When the mixture begins to simmer, add the rhubarb, shallot, and minced figs, then turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens, around 6 to 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and remove from the heat.
- Cook the halibut: Preheat your broiler to high for at least 10 minutes; you want it as hot as you can get your home oven. Brush both sides of the fillets with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place them in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. For 1-inch-thick fillets, broil 2 minutes, then flip, and broil another 2 minutes. Unless your oven gets really, really hot, you probably won’t get that magic golden restaurant crust, but the fish will be cooked perfectly (that is, enough, and not too much). If your fillets are thicker or thinner than 1 inch, by all means adjust the cooking time, but do everything within your power to avoid overcooking.
- Serve the dish: Top each broiled fillet with some of the rhubarb chutney, and finish with a squeeze of lemon and a little bit of minced scallion.