Baked Wild Pacific Halibut with Spicy Clam Broth, Summer Squash, and Celery
Chef’s Note: For this aromatic soup, I use the really tender pale-yellow stalks and leaves from the heart of the celery. They give body and sweetness to the broth and aren’t as crunchy and bitter as the outer stalks. I also prefer to use soda or mineral water to really let the light flavors of the ingredients shine through: the water’s minerals tenderize the vegetables, preserve their colour, and neutralize some of the acidity. This one-pot dish calls for artisan-baked bread, with a nice crust, to mop up every last drop of broth.
1 lb - live clams
4 - (4 to 5 oz) skin-on Wild Pacific halibut fillets
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp - olive oil, plus extra if needed
¼ cup - finely chopped celery hearts
1 - shallot, finely chopped
1 clove - garlic, thinly sliced
¼ tsp - chili flakes
¼ cup - white wine
1 Tbsp - unsalted butter
1 cup - soda water, mineral, fish stock or vegetable stock
2 - summer squash, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
¼ cup - chopped celery leaves
2 tsp - extra-virgin olive oil whisked with 1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp - chopped fresh chives, chervil, or flat-leaf parsley
artisan bread, to serve
Rinse the clams under cold running water for at least 5 minutes, and discard any that are open and won’t close when tapped or that have broken shells. Scrub off any debris.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the fish skin side down, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 1 minute or until a golden crust forms on the skin. Transfer to a plate.
Set the skillet back over medium heat and add the celery hearts and shallots (add a little more oil if necessary). Sauté for 3 minutes or until shallots are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté for another minute.
Pour in wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, then add the butter and soda water or mineral water (or stock), stirring until the butter is melted. Return fish fillets back to the pan skin side up along with the clams. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until the fish is almost opaque all the way through and the clams have opened. Discard any clams that have not opened.
Add the squash ribbons, celery leaves, olive oil whisked with lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Cook for about 1 minute, just to heat through. Divide among shallow bowls and serve with slices of artisan bread.
Recipe copyright ©2017 by Ned Bell. All rights reserved. Featured with permission.