I prefer to get my fish from a local fish dealer or co-op rather than the supermarket. However after talking to people from all across the country it’s obvious that many seafood loves don’t have access to a good stand-alone seafood market. They rely on their local supermarket for seafood, so I have been buying fish from a local Whole Foods lately in the name of research.
So far I have liked the variety of fish, both familiar and non-local. This recent trip they had Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish), Alaskan black cod and plenty of local caught hake, haddock, cod and flounder. But it’s been a while since I had a nice piece of halibut. Whole Foods had previously-frozen Atlantic halibut fillets on sale for $18.99 so I brought home a pound.
Because I did not plan on cooking it that night, I kept the fish wrapped and placed it atop a frozen ice pack and placed it in the back of my refrigerator’s meat drawer. When bringing fish home remember the colder the better until preparing. Most refrigerators are not really cold enough to keep your fish for long. The ice pack, will help keep things a few degrees colder and allow the fish to stay fresh for a day or two.
The fish was previously frozen, which means that re-freezing was not really an option. It is not recommended from a food-safety standpoint to do this. If I’m being honest, I have put previously frozen fish in the freezer and many fishermen I know have as well. I never had a problem with it, but I don’t endorse the practice. Do as I say, not as I do: Don’t re-freeze your fish.
The Fish: Atlantic Halibut
Although Atlantic halibut is still recovering from past overfishing, the species is making a comeback. Atlantic halibut is not currently subjected to overfishing in American waters due to years of heavy restrictions. Only one fish, with a 42 inch limit is all that can be brought in per trip. What gives me hope for the future is that more and more boats have been bringing in that one legal sized fish, meaning more and more of these huge flatfish are growing to marketable size. We are decades away from reaching NOAA’s target for the Atlantic halibut biomass, but it looks like we are headed in the right direction.
The Recipe: Roasted Halibut With Creamy Herb Pesto
This is NOT a low-FODMAP recipe, but it is not far off the mark. I tend to omit garlic from my pesto anyway but with a few modifications it could a true low-FODMAP seafood dinner. Be adventurous in your selection of herbs, any that go well with fish will make a nice pesto. The addition of lemon not only works with the fish, but helps keep your pesto greener.
- 1lb Halibut steak or fillet
- 1/4 cup Sour cream or Mayonnaise
- 1/2oz Fresh Basil
- 1/2oz Fresh Dill
- 1/2oz Fresh Mint
- 1/2oz Fresh Italian Parsely
- 5-7 Almonds or equivalent weight of Pine Nut, Walnut or Pistachio
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino, Parmigiano or Grana Padano
- 1 Lemon for juice and zest
- Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425F. Season halibut with salt and pepper. Put herbs, almonds, a pinch of salt, and a bit of the lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until broken down, then gradually add oil until you have a nice paste. place in a bowl, add the cheese, some pepper and taste before adding the sour cream. Make sure there is enough lemon flavor and then fold in enough sour cream to make it silky. If you want a more pesto flavor add less sour cream.
Line a baking sheet with parchment, place halibut skin side down and coat with the creamy herb pesto. Bake for about 15 minutes and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
My ratio of herbs made for a light and bright flavor that also made enough to use as a nice dip for toasted sourdough bread. Since the potatoes I planned as a side would take longer I gave them a 15 minute head start. The fish itself took about 18 minutes. I let it rest for about 2 minutes and after that you could tell it was white, opaque and flaky…no thermometer required.
The Verdict: Atlantic Halibut from Whole Foods
The thing about halibut is that if it is good quality, it really don’t need anything at all. The pesto cream sauce was mild and allowed the halibut taste to come through. I also like the combo of dill and mint in the pesto and I will have to try it again, maybe on some salmon.
Many of us do not have access to a high quality fish market, but if you have a Whole Foods in your area, you have access to good seafood. That goes for many other supermarkets as well, Frozen or previously-frozen is not a sign of bad quality, ask any fisherman. Most of them have their freezer filled with fish. When in doubt ask the fishmonger about what they are selling, if they don’t know what they are selling move on to the frozen section. And if the frozen section lets you down, maybe it’s time to start buying your seafood online.