Seafood Recipes, vegetables

Pan Roasted Halibut, French cut Romano Beans with Lardons, Salsa Verde

August 29, 2008

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I am still on cloud nine to be honest. The party hosted by WhiteonRice is still in my darn head, and I cannot get it out. Dani and I finally met the awesome couple, and can now call them friends. I am honored. The only bugger is they are in California, and we are in Seattle, so I cannot invite them over for dinner every weekend!! They managed to assemble such a fabulous range of bloggers, that are truly inspirational – it is no wonder I cannot stop thinking about that wonderful sunny afternoon in California.

But, think of other things I must. And this dish is a rather bloody good place to start. I actually knocked this one together before we left for the few days in CA, but just didn’t find time to develop the images before the plane took off.

I had been thinking about runner beans for a while. When I was a wee lad, back in England – many moons ago, my parents would grow runner beans (scarlet runner beans to you Yanks) every year. And every year I would be out picking them with Dearie, hardly being able to wait for her to cook them up. My favorite bean by a country mile (and we all know that is a long way..), I never grew sick of them. Not even when we were getting bucket loads in the height of season.

So off I went to the local farmers markets in search for some. No luck. Bastards. The bet I could do was Romano beans. They looked pretty similar, so I figured I would give em a shot. Turns out, they are bloody fantastic. Especially when mixed with some finely chopped bacon! (lardons).

What is the whole “French cut” thing you ask.. Sounds a bit poncy doesn’t it. All it really means is that the bean gets it string edges taken off, then cut into slices about 3mm wide, down the length of the bean. This is completely possible to do with a pairing knife. It would take bloody ages, absolutely ages if you were completely anal about prep as I am – if you are going to do something, you might as well do it right!

Step in the Krisk bean slicer. The Australians know a few things. They know how to drink beer. They know how to beat the English at just about every game we introduced to them. They also know how to make a super handy tool that French cuts a bean in seconds. That means they are OK by me!

So what is the big deal about French cutting beans you ask?

Well.. it is a number of things. Firstly, since every slice is an even thickness, they cook much more uniformly. They way they are sliced also means that they hold less water when boiled (my preferred method of cooking beans), which yields a better “bean” taste, and a far superior texture. Oh, and it looks pretty. This works great for the more fibrous runner and romano beans.

And lardons. OK, no one is going to argue with me here. Not much cannot be improved by a decent piece of fatty bacon, cut into pieces and fried. This just gives a little richness to the dish, especially the beans.

Salsa Verdi, with fish?? EWWWWW.

Actually, salsa verdi works amazingly well with mild flavored fish – just like halibut. It works especially well with grilled fish – but I prefer to pan sear/roast a decent piece of halibut – the flesh side sears so wonderfully in a pan. Salsa Verdi still works great with it.

Salsa Verdi is such a lively, fresh, herby taste that I just love it in summer with simple seafood. Having quite a bit of mint in this one really goes great with beans too.

To make this a little more accepting with fish, I added a couple of chopped anchovies to the verde, as the salt component. This just gives a really delicate fish edge, that is hard to detect, but helps all the flavors work together better.

I made this salsa pretty loose – lots of really good quality olive oil. Nothing is nicer than pushing your next mouthful of fish through the herby oil that is just running out onto your plate.

You will also notice my complete inaccuracy in the ingredients for the salsa verde. This is really is about taste, not measuring. If you like mint, add more mint. Likewise with basil or anchovies. Learn to make this one using taste and smell – it isn’t a dish of precision, more bursting fresh flavor.

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Pan Roasted Halibut, French cut Romano Beans with Lardons, Salsa Verde

(serves 2)

1lb of really thick halibut fillet, cut into two pieces

2 good handfuls of fresh romano or scarlet runner beans

2 pieces of fatty bacon, cut into small cubes (lardons)

1 small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

1 small handful of fresh basil

10 mint leaves

2 anchovy fillets

1 clove of garlic

1 dill pickle

1 small handful of capers

really good olive oil

splash of red wine vinegar

Start by making the salsa verdi. Finely chop, by hand, the parsley basil and mint. Put in a medium sized bowl. Finely chop the pickle and capers, and add to the bowl. Do the same for the anchovy fillets. Mash the garlic clove, and add. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, and now a good few glugs of the really good olive oil. Mix. If it is looking too dry, add more olive oil. Keep adding until everything looks moist, and there is a little oil in the bottom of the bowl. I like to chop this by hand, so that you see some great texture. If you are feeling lazy, the food processor is an option, but it will come out looking like mush.. with the texture of mush. In my mind, salsa verde is a sauce best left to a day when you have patience!

Let the verde stand at room temperature whilst you prepare everything else.

French cut the beans. If you are using a pairing knife – good luck to ya. This might take a while. But then, most people have better knife skills than I!! top and tail the bean, and cut it into thin sections, lengthwise. If you have a bean slicer then use it to top and tail the bean, and push/pull it through the slicer.

Preheat oven to 400F. Get a large pot of boiling water on the go for the beans.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a medium sized frying pan (big enough for both pieces of halibut). When the oil is hot, put the fish in, flesh side down. Regulate the heat carefully. We don’t want this to burn – a golden yellow color is perfect. Cook the fish like this for about 4 minutes – until the flesh is nicely golden.

Put the beans into the boiling water, and boil for 6 minutes. Do not overdo, overcooked beans are quite a let down. Strain when done.

Heat up a thick pan – preferably a well seasoned cast iron one. When hot, fry the bacon in this for about 4 minutes, until just cooked through.

Flip the fish over, and put it in the oven, for about 6 more minutes – but this really depends on the thickness of your halibut. This one was really pretty thick for me (hats off to Mutual Fish for that!). The fish is done when it is opaque throughout, and flakes easily with a fork.

In a large bowl toss the beans and the bacon together.

To plate – put a pile of salsa verde in the center of a plate. Push it into a circle using the back of a spoon. Top this with a generous helping of beans. Very carefully place the halibut fillet on top.

Serve immediately.

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  • Peter G August 29, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Wonderful as always Matt! Your passion for food really strikes a chord….As an Aussie I’ve never seen that “Krisk” bean slicer…now I have to investigate. This dish is truly bursting with flavour.

  • Y August 29, 2008 at 5:22 am

    I’m not terribly fussed about most little gadgets, but I know a chef who absolutely loves his bean slicer. I didn’t realise it was an Australian product!

    Great looking dish, Matt. I’ve been playing around with desserty stuff at home all day and now feel like having a piece of fish for dinner too!

  • sue bette August 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I have never seen a bean slicer…now I HAVE to get one – pics are beautiful, thanks Matt!

  • matt wright August 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Peter – In all honesty, it just says “made in Australia” on it.. so I assumed it was an Aussie design!!
    Y – I agree.. I hate kitchen gadgets – this is about the only one I have. People can shove their garlic crushers and onion slicers!
    Sue Bette – I need to work out what else I can use this bean slicer for! ohh, the possibilities!

  • lisa August 29, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Your photo is beautiful, and I love frenched beans. I’ve cut them by hand, but there’s this hand-crank style of tool as well:
    http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-5125-French-Bean-Slicer/dp/B00004UE6R/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1220043077&sr=8-1

    I have to get one of those!

  • Matt August 30, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I’ve been unusually hungry this week and this recipe isn’t helping. It’s on my short list (if a list with fifteen items on it can be considered short) of things to make. Your photography and visuals, as always, are a perfect blend of style and wit.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  • diva August 31, 2008 at 3:57 am

    runner beans are delish but these look damn good too. halibut’s my favourite fish but i love it best on the bbq..awesome picture and recipe matt!

  • Matin August 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Its a good looking plate of food and i am sure tastes great:-)
    X M

  • White On Rice Couple September 1, 2008 at 12:43 am

    We have to tell you Matt, we can smell the bacon all the way down here! And double wow, you’ve got the whole “french cut” down to the 3mm science. Thanks for the very valuable bit of culinary info. We love food trivia!
    You’re so right, fish and herby oil is a beautiful match! Love the salsa verde!

  • Judy September 2, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Oh I love the little “Krisk” french cut thingy. I am such a sucker for kitchen gadgets. And fish and herbs and oil…the best!!!

  • dayna September 2, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Tasty photos, as always.
    & I just have to agree on the salsa verdi. It goes so well with so much and with a good olive oil? I’m always a sucker for that!

  • Haley September 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Your pictures are always so stunning!

    We’d like to invite you to participate in our September apple and peach recipe contest. All competitors will be eligible to win one of three prizes :)! Please email me, haleyglasco@gmail.com, if you’re interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details: http://blog.keyingredient.com/2008/08/29/september-kick-contest/

    Thanks :),
    Haley
    KI Blogger

  • Brittany September 2, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Hmm, a bean slicer is a gadget I need to procure.

    Glad to see Mutual getting their due props!

  • Anticiplate September 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Mmm. Love these flavor combinations. Fish, bacon, and herbs could be my breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

  • Heather September 5, 2008 at 2:36 am

    That halibut sounds simply wonderful. I’ve been thinking about those bean Frencher-thingies, and you may have sold me.

  • matt wright September 5, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Heather – since you grow your own scarlet runners, a beaner is a required purchase! they are super cheap too… Less than a latte.

    Anticiplate – anything with bacon in isn’t going to be completely terrible!

    Brittany – Mutual are awesome aren’t they! When I get a second I wanna do a photo shoot down there, and give them a well needed blog post.

  • We Are Never Full September 6, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    a bean slicer? that may be a gadget that’s worthy of a place in my kitchen. this looks like a beautiful, healthy and delicious dish. love the crust you got on the fish.

  • MPG September 6, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    You have the bean slicer jamie O has :-o I have to pass this link on to a bunch of people who were asking me about it :)