Recipe Project #89-90: Grilled Swordfish and Thai-Steamed Halibut

The learn-to-eat-more-fish project continued pretty steadily through the summer and into the fall. (And the fact that I’m mentioning the season before last here tells you just how far behind I am with recording recipes.) We visited John the Fish Man at his truck every Wednesday or Friday, trying something new most weeks. And then we discovered halibut, and there were many weeks of it.

My files tell me that I made Giada de Laurentiis’ Grilled Swordfish with Lemon, Mint, and Basil and found it good enough to mark for recording here. I have only vague memories of it, but remember that we both liked it and that it was great for using up herbs from the garden. I’ll likely make it again at some point.

Grilled swordfish, indoors

Now, the Thai-Style Steamed Halibut is a dish I’ve made many times in the past six months, both just for us and also for company. The marinade/sauce and general technique is from an recipe for Easy Thai Steamed Fish. (And may be the only recipe I’ve ever made from

2 or more halibut steaks
1/2 cup chicken (or fish) broth
3 Tbsp. white wine )
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 stalk lemongrass
1 thai chile, de-seeded and finely sliced
1-2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. corn starch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 3 Tbsp. cold water (for thickening)
1 thumb-size piece ginger, finely grated
3 spring onions, cut long and thin
handful of fresh coriander sprigs
Miscellaneous vegetables, which might include Napa cabbage, scallions, sweet peppers, spring onions, sugar snap peas, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, etc. Slice them up fairly small, but don’t chop or dice. Peas can remain whole, and scallions should be cut in 1/2 inch sections.

Rinse and dry the fish, then rub on both sides with salt and sesame oil. Set it aside to think about what it’s done. Pound the lemongrass thoroughly and add it to a small pot along with the broth and wine. Boil for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili. Taste for saltiness, bearing in mind that it needs to be fairly salty in order for the final dish to taste best. If it needs more salt, add more fish sauce. Then add the cornstarch or arrowroot powder and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Locate a dish small or narrow enough to allow some steam to rise from the bottom of the steamer or colander. (I use my largest pasta pot and its shallow vegetable-steaming basket.) I place a bed of sliced napa cabbage on the bottom of the dish, then place the fish on top of it. On top of that goes the ginger and then the rest of the vegetables. When you get done, it’ll look something like this:

Thai Steamed Halibut, before

There’s fish under there, I promise. Pour 1/4 – 1/3 of the sauce on top. Cover the pot and steam until the fish is flakey. On my stove, this is usually 15-20 minutes.

Serve with the rest of the warm sauce and top with a bit of chopped cilantro or garlic chives. You’ll also want plenty of jasmine rice.

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