Fennel-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Tomato Broth

Ingredients (21)

For the Broth:

  • 1 pound large red heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, roughly chopped (fennel fronds for garnish)
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Pinch saffron threads (optional)
  • Roasted heirloom tomatoes, approximately 1 cup
  • 4 cups fish stock, clam juice, vegetable stock, light chicken broth or water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Crust and Fish:

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted
  • 1/2 loaf French bread, stale, cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 4 (5-ounce) Pacific halibut fillets, trimmed, skin off
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
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Nutritional Information
  • Calories509
  • Fat23.0g
  • Saturated fat3.8g
  • Trans fat0.0g
  • Carbs37.35g
  • Fiber5.1g
  • Sugar11.43g
  • Protein37.63g
  • Cholesterol76.66mg
  • Sodium1192.81mg
  • Nutritional Analysis per serving (4 servings) Powered by

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Fennel-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Tomato Broth

“Hippo of the Sea” is how the halibut’s Latin family name Hippoglossus can be translated. “Holy flatfish” is the English derivation, with hali for holy and but for flat, hailing from the halibut’s legacy as a special fish for holy days (or holidays) in medieval England. Halibut is the largest member of the right-eye flounder family. Alaskan and Canadian fisheries cooperate across the border to manage wild Pacific halibut stocks for long-term sustainability. Both countries operate under an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system, under which fishermen “own” their quota and can fish anytime from March 15th to November 15th to fulfill their allocation.

We do not recommend purchasing Atlantic halibut, due to poor fishery management; most flounder and sole populations in the Atlantic, including Atlantic halibut, are seriously depleted. Since most Atlantic flatfish are caught with bottom trawls, bycatch of other species is a considerable problem, as is the harmful effect of trawling on ocean habitat.

Join the discussion on fennel, one of the key ingredients in this recipe.

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To Prepare the Roasted Tomato Broth:
  1. 1Heat the oven to 225°F.
  2. 2Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds. Place tomatoes in a medium-size bowl, drizzle tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes, cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven and roast for 2 to 3 hours or until the tomatoes are very soft and slightly dry. Remove from the oven and set aside. NOTE: The roasted tomatoes may be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  3. 3In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, onions, fennel, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft but not colored, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the orange juice, wine and saffron. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, fish stock, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain sauce through a fine mesh strainer, taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm.

To Prepare the Fennel Crust and the Halibut:

  1. 1Heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. 2To make the crust, place salt, pepper, parsley, fennel seed and bread in a blender or food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed.
  3. 3Place the fennel coating on a plate. Press the halibut fillets firmly into the coating so they are covered evenly. Turn to coat both sides. Place the halibut fillets on a large ovenproof sauté pan or baking sheet. Place fish in oven and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and the fish is just cooked through.

To Serve:

  1. 1Divide tomato broth among 4 warm bowls. Place halibut in the center of the bowl and garnish with fennel fronds.

Advance Preparation: Both the tomato broth and the fennel crust may be prepared several days in advance. Store the broth in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Store the fennel crust in a sealed container in a dry place, but do not refrigerate.

Substitutions and Options: Other spices or combination of spices, such as mustard seed, coriander or cumin, can be substituted in the crust mixture for the toasted fennel seed. Wild salmon, Pacific cod or Petrale sole can be used in place on the halibut.
You can also serve the crusted halibut on top of summer vegetable slaw, or with sliced heirloom tomatoes simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper.

Beverage pairing: The anise flavor of the fennel crust will benefit from anise notes in a Sangiovese-based red wine. Recommended: 1999 Castellare di Castellina, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy; or for something a little oaky try the 2000 Columbia, Red Willow Vineyard David Lake Signature Series, Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, Washington.

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