Seared Halibut with Spicy Tomato Oil

I don't often make halibut due to its high price tag, but I couldn't resist after seeing beautiful, thick filets at the grocery store. That being said, if you're trying to cook on a budget, replace the halibut with any light, flaky white fish. You can use tilapia, haddock, cod, or monkfish. 

The longer you let the tomatoes sit in the oil, the more flavorful the final product will be. I would aim for 30 minutes in the oil if you can manage it! The remaining oil will last for almost 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

That being said, this recipe is SO easy and will be sure to impress your guests. For a more filling meal, you can serve with a side of buttery pasta.

GRADE

Serves: 4, with leftover tomato oil and purée

Cost: $$

Skill Level: Easy

Time to Make: 60 minutes (30 minutes inactive)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound flaky white fish such as halibut, cod, haddock, or tilapia (skin on or off, depending on your preference)

1-3 serrano peppers depending on how spicy you'd like it

1 pound of tomatoes (for the the oil; use a variety of sizes and colors)

1 head of garlic

1 small shallot

2 fresh bay leaves

1 cup olive oil

2 large tomatoes (for serving)

6 grape or cherry tomatoes (for serving)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Greens for serving (I used a few pinches of arugula microgreens)

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Cut the stems from the peppers and large tomatoes. Remove the seeds from the peppers if desired. Peel the garlic and shallot. Cut the shallot in half. Thinly slice the two large tomatoes for serving and cut the grape tomatoes for serving in half. Sprinkle the tomatoes for serving with salt and chill. Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Prepare the Tomato Oil: In a wide, deep skillet, add the 1 cup of olive oil, the 1 pound of tomatoes, garlic, shallot, and bay leaves. Heat over medium high until very hot. Reduce heat to medium low and cook on a very low boil for at least 30 minutes. Stir regularly to keep the vegetables from sticking. The tomatoes may break apart and that's okay! 

After the oil has cooked, remove the bay leaves and discard. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve to separate the solids from the oil. Transfer the solids to a food processor and season the oil to taste with a touch of salt. Transfer the oil to a glass container with a lid. Set aside.

Purée the solids until mostly smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl.

Prepare the Fish: Carefully wipe out the skillet you used to make the oil and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high until very hot. Add the fish (skin-side down if you're using skin-on filets) and cook for 4-5 minutes or until very browned. Flip and cook an additional 4 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and is well browned. Turn off the heat.

To Serve: Add a two spoonfuls of the tomato oil to the bottom of shallow bowls. Arrange two slices of fresh tomato and a few grape tomato halves in the oil. Gently place a fish filet on top and spoon a tablespoon of the purée on top of the fish with a few microgreens arranged around the fish. Serve at the table with additional purée and tomato oil. Enjoy!

Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!