I served this with a quick pan-saute of Sun Gold and red cherry tomatoes, just warmed in some olive oil until they began to split, and sprinkled with sea salt. Fresh tarragon is a natural enhancement for the fish, plus I have a French tarragon plant that routinely exceeds four feet in height and width, so I am liberal in my use of the herb. Rosemary or thyme would also be lovely.
For the sauce I deglazed the pan with a cup of flipflop Pinot Grigio, which adds a bright, mildly acidic note to balance the rich toasted almonds and the buttery halibut. To retain the texture of the almonds I toasted them in butter, removed them from the pan, and then sprinkled them over the top of the fish just before serving. Two fillets of halibut will serve four people, so if you are cooking for two you can use one fillet and reduce the almonds by half–leave the rest of the amounts the same, however, and you will just end up with a little extra pan sauce (which is never a bad thing).
Halibut with Pinot Grigio Pan Sauce and Butter-Toasted Almonds
1/2 tablespoon salted butter
1/4 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
2 halibut fillets, of roughly equal thickness
salt and ground white pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup flipflop Pinot Grigio
fresh tarragon leaves
In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add the almonds. Toast the almonds in the butter, stirring frequently, until they just begin to turn golden and smell toasty. This will only take 3-4 minutes, so be careful not to let them burn. Remove the almonds from the pan.
Sprinkle the halibut pieces with salt and ground white pepper. Dust both sides of the fillets with cornstarch to lightly coat.
In the same pan you used to toast the almonds, add the olive oil and shallot and cook over medium-high heat until it just starts to wilt. Push the shallot to the side of the pan and add the fish to the open areas. Let it brown for 3-4 minutes per side, then pour in the wine and sprinkle on some fresh tarragon. Let the sauce cook down to a glaze, then sprinkle on the toasted almonds and serve.
Legal stuff: flipflop provided me with samples of their wine and I then made up recipes with some of said free wine and drank the rest with abandon. All opinions are my own, and all recipes were written prior to the consumption of free wine. If you find a typo, don’t blame the wine.
Thanks for reading,