A little while ago I made a most fabulous dinner using a recipe from my friend Lisa. As you know, I have fish literally up the ass in the freezer from The Hubsters fishing trip over the summer, and I was running out of ideas on how to deal with halibut. I adapted Lisa's recipe for Huachinango a la Veracruzana, which is basically fish prepared Veracruz style. Tender fillets of fish are simmered in a briny but sweet tomato and olive sauce, then served over rice. It's sort of a stew but without all the fuss and long-term preparations.
Lisa's original recipe calls for red snapper, which you can most certainly use. But like I said, I had to get rid of some halibut so I used that fish with major success as well. Here's my version below (I omitted cilantro for certain pint-sized picky eaters) and subbed a couple of things. I highly recommend you check out her blog for the original recipe as well, and some great pictures. Enjoy!
Stewed Halibut, Veracruz Style
4 fillets halibut
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups diced canned tomatoes with juice, recommend San Marzano tomatoes
½ cup sliced olives (large pimiento stuffed)
splash of broth (chicken, vegetable, or fish)
1 small bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped scallions for garnish (optional)
cooked white rice to serve
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes, olives, broth, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let cook stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
At this point, taste the sauce and adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Remember -- the olives will seep out some of their salt so it's important not to salt the dish too soon, and rather wait for the olives' salt to cook out into the dish during those 15 minutes!
While the sauce cooks, wash and pat dry the fish. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Gently place the fish into the sauce and using a spoon, scoop up some of the sauce up and onto the fish. Add more broth if needed -- you want a little liquid there to keep the fish moist -- cover with lid and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the fish over and finish cooking them -- another minute or so, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Once they are white and firm to the touch, they are done.
Garnish with a sprinkling of the scallions. To serve, mound some cooked white rice onto a plate or bowl. Add a fish piece and a generous portion of the stew, and garnish with freshly squeezed lime juice.