Sometimes, the only cure for blustery-evening blues is a hearty, homemade meal. But substantial stews and potato-laden dishes have a tendency to put us right to sleep. The solution? A light, flaky fish heaped with cockles and bursting roasted tomatoes. Daniel Holzman, the recipe’s creator and renowned chef and owner of N.Y.C. hotspot The Meatball Shop, isn’t planning on adding the fish filet to his eatery’s meat-centric menu, but loves to serve this dish for larger parties, “since it’s very easy to prepare once all of the components are ready.” The inspiration for the dish, which was created for the Mother of Pearl dinner at this year's Taste Talks Brooklyn, was the halibut itself: “It was amazing, firm, and fresh, and we wanted to highlight it and not overpower the delicate flavor,” says Holzman. Try the recipe for yourself this week, or use it to impress guests at your next holiday soirée.
Halibut with Roast Tomatoes, Fennel, Cockles and Saffron
1½ lbs halibut fillet, skin removed, seasoned heavily with salt and black pepper
1 small onion, small dice
1 small head fennel, small dice
2 tbsp butter
½ cup white wine
Healthy pinch saffron
½ lb cockle clams
Salt to taste
1 cup washed arugula
For the roast tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, stems removed
2 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1. To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, shallots, garlic and thyme and spread on a line sheet pan.
3. Roast in the oven until the tomatoes begin to blister and split, about 12 minutes.
4. Discard the thyme stems.
5. To make the fish: Melt the butter in a large oven-safe sauté pan over a medium heat.
6. Add the onions, fennel, saffron, 1 tsp of salt, and white wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and fennel soften, about 8 minutes.
7. Place the halibut in the pan, surround with the clams, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven until the clams open and the halibut is just cooked, about 15 minutes.
8. Remove to a serving platter (or serve in the cooking pan), mix the roasted tomatoes with the arugula, and spoon over the fish.