Pan Fried Halibut Fillet & saffron stock, on a courgette & tomato Briam
serves two, takes around 1 hr to make ;
For the fish & sauce;
2 halibut steaks (bone in) or grouper if you re in the med (σφυριδα, συναγριδα φετα)
a pinch of wild oregano
a couple of springs fennel fronds & a stalk
a pinch of fennel seeds
black pepper & salt
lemon, 1 unwaxed
Olive oil, mild
bunch parsley stalks
1/2 cup dry white wine
for the Briam;
2 large courgettes or 4 small ones
2 cyprus potatoes
1 cup full cherry tomatoes
3 pink onions or banana shallots
5 cloves garlic
tomato puree (1 tbsp)
Olive oil, 1/3 cup (strong flavoured, Sitia, koroneiki varieties)
Take the halibut steaks (or grouper) and carefully cut out the middle bone & cartilage. This will split the steak in to two halves, boneless goujons / fillets.Pad dry very well, and rub with salt pepper and oregano, and a little oil, and leave them in the fridge for at least 1 hr. You can bypass this stage but its flesh wont season as nicely.
-The saffron stock;
put the bones together with the saffron, lemon slice, wine, parsley stalks and fennel stalks & seeds in a small sauce pot, cover well with cold water and set to just about boil. turn down and simmer very slowly for an hour, watching over and adding water if too dry.The collagen of the bones should tie the sauce on its own, add corn flour if its too thin. Sieve the liquid.
Briam is a rustic greek vegetable side, also called tourlou and sometimes incorporating different ranges of vegetables, aubergines or leaks make the occasional appearance, carrots etc vary by season.
This is a paired down version, which works very well next to a sweet buttery fish like halibut or a juicy adult sea bass.
slice the potatoes, courgettes and onions into very thin rounds (4mm or so ) with either a mandolin, a slicer or your knife skills.
Disolve the tomato puree in 1 cup water and add it.
Boil the cherry tomatoes for a minute, then rinse and their skin will peel off with a flick of the thumb. If too lazy and not fussed about peeling them use whole, or use a concassee tin. This is not the same though, especially when intended to accompany a fish dish.
Rub everything together; the herbs, oil, (be generous with the oil, it the only fat in this dish) and add the garlic cloves crushed and peeled, rough. mix well and season as you go along. Add a little more water, 1.2 cup or so, and stick in a preheated oven, for around 40 minutes at 180 -200 degrees.
* make sure its all in a single layer, overlapping slightly. if your pan is too small, use two and alternate their positions in the oven shelves every now and then (middle and top).
- When the briam is ready, and your fish has absorbed all the herby seasoning;
Heat up a pan, then add 1 tbsp oil.
Fry the halibut skin -side down, press it with your fingers so the fillets stay nice and flat on the pan. DO NOT move them for at least a minute or two, you ll see the skin going golden brown and the flesh white, the whiteness raising up the sides.
Around 2 minutes in, it should be cooked halfway.
Tip over, and fry for a minute no more. Then put (as in pic above) on a tray and stick in the oven where your briam is sitting, for 5 minutes more.
- Dish up the sauce first, then the briam & the fillets sat in their juice. Sprinkle with more fennel fronds and serve.