Seafood Recipes, vegetables

Seared Halibut, Mussels & onions in a cider broth – VIDEO post!!

July 13, 2009

That’s right folks. Against all better judgement I have gone and done another video post. You may remember that last year I did a post on trussing a chicken assaulting a chicken, and after that got sent around my work (I should have seen that coming..) I promised to myself I would never do another video post.

Well, that promise has been broken. Put it down to a new camera that takes video as well as stills.. put it down to me getting itchy feet with my blog and wanting to try out something a bit different. Put it down to stupidity if you will, but this post features not one, but TWO videos! Excuse me whilst I take the next two months off work to avoid the ridicule!

So this is a really great little dish that has some pretty sturdy origins in French cuisine. There is a classic dish called Sole Normande which can be a rather elaborate restaurant dish. It can also be broken down to a rather simple dish of onions sauteed in butter, and a fillet of sole cooked in a little cider and mussel broth in the oven. The onions are served with the sole on top, the broth around, and the mussels scattered over the bowl. Quite lovely I have to say. A clean dish, wish an incredibly light and delicate fish (sole), paired with some rich onions.

Apparently this dish should be made with Normandy cider, and who the heck am I to argue, because that stuff is just bloody fantastic. An incredibly clean, sharp and dry cider, with minute bubbles. To top it off, you can it get raw and unfiltered. Some people call it the “champagne of cider”, I just call it the best cider on earth – which is a pretty bloody hard thing for a British bloke to say.

This dish is a classic, but I figured I would change it up a bit. I happened (as one does) to have some halibut in the fridge, and I was trying to decide what to do with it. I really enjoy halibut when it has had it’s flesh side seared to crisp and then cooked through in the oven. You get a wonderful crispness, but also the great flakey, delicate flesh just falling off the fork. The rest of the dish is really pretty similar. Sliced onions are slowly cooked in butter, mussels are simply steamed open in cider, and the fish gets “braised” in the oven for a few minutes to cook through, sitting in the mussel liquor/cider broth.

I then got thinking… There are some great little techniques here that might be worth showing in a video. Cleaning mussels, cooking mussels for one. The other is something I get emailed a bit about, and that is getting a decent sear on a piece of fish.

As it turns out, making the video was kind of fun. Danika (she took the video for this one) and I got through a whole bottle of cider, had a laugh, and I cringed at how cheesy I look on video. Heck I might do it again. We shall see.. No promises this time though.

Without further ado, here are the videos. PLEASE let me know what you think.. and be honest. I have a tough skin. This is still pretty new for me. Well, really new to be honest. I ramble a lot. I could try and blag that off to the bottle of cider, but really it is just me… I ramble. I think in future videos I will change it up a bit – make some long and detailed (like this one), and others very short and snappy – 2 minutes, and the video is done.

Cleaning Mussels

Cleaning mussels is a complete chore. It hate it. It gets my back everytime. I try to fob the job off on guests, they don’t want to do it (especially I think because I am a picky bugger about cleaning mussels). This is my little method for it, which I find pretty quick. I use one of those scratchy dish pads to clean off the shell – I find it gets crud off quicker than those mussel brushes you can buy – and quicker is better when it comes to cleaning mussels. The only thing I can say outside of the video is to check the shell over first before you clean it – check it for cracks. Lob it out if it is cracked. Nothing worse than cleaning and debearding a mussel, only to find you have to toss it anyway.

Seared Halibut, Mussels & onions in a cider broth

3/4lb fresh halibut fillet, skin on. True or Ling cod will work here just fine, as would almost any fleshy mellow white fish. Cut into two pieces

2 large handfuls of mussels

1 onion, sliced

1 good glass of apple cider – preferably Normandy cider

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

coarse sea salt

a pinch of fresh parsley to finish – chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the onion. Heat a saute pan over a medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is hot (starts to gently fizz) add in the onion. Cook this gently for about 20 minutes – whilst you get the rest of the dish together. Try not to let the onions brown too much – we want them soft and delicate.

Clean the mussels – pull the beard off the mussel, and scrub the shell with a scouring pad or stiff brush. Discard any mussels that are open and don’t shut when tapped or run under water. Discard any with broken shells.

Season the flesh side of the halibut with sea salt.

Get a saute pan hot oven a medium-high heat. Add in the oil and butter, and let this get hot. When the butter is melted and gently fizzing gently place each fillet of halibut into the pan, flesh side down. Let this cook for about 5 minutes, without disturbing it. Keep an eye on the temperature – if it looks like it is getting to hot, pull the pan off the heat a bit, or turn the heat down.

Whilst the halibut is cooking, get another pan hot and pour in the apple cider. Let it reduce slightly, then toss in the mussels. Cover, and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mussels are open. Remove the mussels from the broth, and keep the mussels warm.

When the fish has a decent sear on the flesh side, put it in an oven proof dish, flesh (seared) side up. Pour some of the mussel/cider broth around the fish – until it comes about half way up the fish. Cook this in the hot oven for about 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.

To plate – curl half of the onions into the center of a plate. Top with one fillet of the halibut. Pour the broth around, and place half of the mussels in the broth. Sprinkle the parsley into the broth and mussels. Repeat for a second plate. (serves 2)

This video walks you through from cooking the onions at the start to plating the final dish. We cook mussels. We pan sear halibut. We plate the final thing.

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  • bryan July 13, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Beatiful dish, and your presentation skills are excellent! Very nice demonstration! I look forward to trying this dish and to seeing more of your videos.


  • matt July 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    THIS IS BRILLIANT! I loved the video even if I couldn’t understand you, something about an accent or something?

    (I’m ducking now….)


  • rachel July 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    What a fantastic little film about a just lovely recipe..
    understated, intelligent, straightforward, classy, inspiring and well…… really really nice to watch.

  • Jamie July 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Love the video…please keep them coming! Your kitchen looks fabulous!

  • Wind Attack July 13, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    This dish looks fantastic. I’m really hungry now and wishing I had a plate of this in front of me right now!

  • Y July 13, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I thought it was awesome and that you were pretty brave to do that chicken video ages ago, but here you go again! Fab! You could end up doing a whole series, no? Release a dvd even.. (I’d buy it) 😉

  • Cookie July 13, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Now THIS is what I call a perfect seafood dish! Simple and totally fab!

  • Marta July 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Great job with the video Matt!!!! It suonds like you had fun making it and, like you say, some tips are better illustrated with motion rather than words. I found it very useful and informative. Keep them coming!!!!!!
    The recipe looks perfect: clean, simple and delicious!

  • Tartelette July 14, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Loved your post and the video Matt! My dream is to have you cook me fish one day! I envy your friends and family! Why oh why are some of my favorite bloggers so so far away from me?!!

  • White On Rice Couple July 18, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Bravo! Bravo!!! Finally, another edition of your videos, and this one is so bloody fantastic! What a classy, well put together tutorial for making a beautiful and delicious classic dish. This one will go down in history for the finale plating in the end! And a great advertisement for your camera as well. Canon should pay you for this.

    Gotta get some of that beautiful Normandy cider!

    So glad to hear Danika played such a pivotal role, great directorial debut!

  • jaden July 21, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Oh I love seeing you in action!!!

    And yeah, you’re pretty OCD about cleaning your mussels! LOL 😉

  • Hélène July 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Love the videos, hope to see more, you are so natural. Beautiful kitchen!

  • Giff July 27, 2009 at 3:18 am

    I think the video came out great, and I am definitely going to have to hunt around for that cider. Sounds killer. My favorite part, since it is the part of food blogging I struggle with the most (other than time), is watching you plate the dish. kudos!

  • Cliffe July 27, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Hey Matt,

    Just watched the video. Great stuff! Dani worked some magic in the editing room to make you presentable! Kidding. It was very well done. Looking forward to the next video so we can work up the courage to make something other than PB&J.

    Jess & Anna

  • Bethany(dirtykitchensecrets) August 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Great video! Really informative and the whole dish is fantastic. Looking forward to more. I’m loving your blog, don’t know why it took so long to find it!

  • Baking is my Zen October 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Wonderful videos! Someday I will try to make a video…you’ve inspired me! 🙂