I’ve never been a huge fan of white fish. It was always my opinion that if it’s not salmon or steel head, why bother? You see, I was born in Alaska. Both sides of my family are from there (mostly in Anchorage and Juneau), so seafood has always been a favorite in my family.
On Christmas Eve, my family has a seafood feast, a tradition that I’m glad I can still participate in even with my new pescatarian lifestyle. We usually have salmon, prawns, crab, crab-stuffed potatoes, scallops and shrimp salad. And we only get the very best.
That being said, we don’t usually go for halibut, cod or catfish. But my mind has been changed on the subject of halibut, as I’ve recently discovered that it can be quite the tasty little meal when you have the right attitude…and the right marinade.
I had never made halibut on my own until recently, but I had been wanting to try a simple marinade recipe that my brother Stephen used when he grilled us up some halibut fillets from his fishing trip in Alaska this past June (never mind the dates on the photos).
The fish was 5 feet long and 105 pounds (not to mention tasty, and lean). Stephen told me he felt a strange connection to his fish, stating that it “fed me well.” I asked him what he meant by that. “Like the Na’vi?” I said excitedly. “Kinda like that, yeah,” He replied and laughed.
Before eating his catch, I was under the impression that halibut was bland and tasteless. But I cannot for the life of me stop fantasizing about that flaky white fish swimming in that sweet, salty brown sauce. So I took home a fillet and decided to try making it on my own so I could have another delicious source of protein.
The marinading process was a frightening and stressful thought to me at first. I frantically and aimlessly milled around my kitchen, blurting out a string of questions. How long do you marinade halibut? What if I’m not grilling halibut? What if I’m baking halibut? What do I stir it with? Do I cover it with something while it marinades? Do I flip it in the pan? Why!?
Luckily, I had my friends to console and reassure me.
I would really like to emphasize the importance of getting wild, fresh fish. In my opinion it tastes better, and is leaner than farmed fish. But read This or That: Wild vs. Farmed Fish as a guide to the pros and cons of each. (Apparently it’s not as cut and dry as I thought, environmentally speaking).
Wild fish is one of the better lean proteins, so your main dish is already going to be low in fat, but cook-up some green beans and a yam on the side, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a tasty (and lean) meal. The next thing on my list is to marinade my salmon fillet in a puddle of this stuff.
Baked Halibut in Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Marinade
Adapted from allrecipes.com: Barbecue Halibut Steaks by Duane Glende
I doubled the original marinade recipe because my particular halibut fillet was quite large…plus I wanted to make sure my fish had enough sauce. The original recipe is for grilling halibut, but I don’t know how to use a grill yet, so I baked mine at 400 degrees. Also, the cooking time is kind of sketchy, as it depends on the thickness of your fillet. I’ve heard that you should bake for “ten minutes per inch of thickness in a hot oven (this means 400 degrees or more)”. Take that as you will.
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 (1 pound) halibut fillet with NO skin
- Preheat the oven at 400 degrees, with the rack placed at the center position.
- Soften butter or margarine in the microwave.
- Place butter or margarine, brown sugar, minced garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, and black pepper in a glass baking pan large enough for your halibut. Stir mixture until all sugar lumps disappear.
- Place halibut in pan, and brush thoroughly with brown sugar sauce.
- Cover the pan with Saran wrap, with the wrap touching the fish (you want to minimize the air in the pan).
- Place pan in fridge and let marinade for at least 3 hours. Flip the halibut over and brush with more sauce at the halfway point.
- Bake Halibut for 15-20 minutes, flipping it over and re-basting at the halfway point. Fish will be flaky, but not dry.
I’ve found that this recipe goes great with green beans and a yam. After all this waiting for the marinade and the baking, you probably won’t want to put a whole lot of effort into side dishes. But you can make these while the fish is in the oven:
Easy Green Beans
Season these beans however you want. Hell, as long as you have the lemon juice handy, sprinkle some of that on there!
- 1/2 pound fresh green beans
- olive oil
- garlic salt
- Snap the stems off the end of the green beans
- Boil beans in a medium-sized pot of water for 5 minutes. Strain.
- Place boiled green beans in a medium-sized frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with garlic salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium-low until green beans are tender, but still firm (about 5 minutes). Do not overcook.
This is just about the easiest recipe I will ever write down, because you basically just stick it in the microwave. It’s just like a baked potato! But here it is anyway:
- 1 yam
- butter or margarine
- brown sugar
- Stab the yam a few times with a fork.
- Put it in the microwave and press the “Baked Potato” button.
- Yam will be done when you can stick a fork in it and pull it out with ease (just like a baked potato).
- Open the yam up and mash some butter or buttery spread in there. sprinkle a little brown sugar on top and voila!
I usually try to do this process so that all three elements are ready at the same time.