Living in Wisconsin, it can be hard to track down nice, fresh fish sometimes unless you catch it yourself. Much of the stuff to hit the stores has been frozen at one time or another. Worse yet it has been frozen and not handled properly, meaning its been frozen, thawed and refrozen at least a couple of times turning the flesh into a mangled mess. Needless to say, I often avoid seafood which is too bad because I really love fish and shellfish, but I am not about to pay top dollar for second rate or poorly handled fish. There are a few fish “markets” within driving distance of me, but you pay top dollar for the fish they bring in. I have a really hard time doing that as I know what it costs restaurants to get in fresh fish, and while not exactly cheap it is sure a lot less expensive than what they are selling it for. It was with this mindset that I happened upon some beautiful looking halibut today at none other than my local “mega-mart.” The stuff looked pristine and the man behind the counter assured me that it had never been frozen. At $14 a pound he had better be right, but I couldn’t resist. It looked too darn good and it had been too long since I had good fish. Into my basket went 8oz of halibut, a bulb of fennel and a ruby red grapefruit, along with the other stuff I had stopped at the store to pick up, then on home to whip up a quick and simple dinner to surprise the wife.
Halibut with Fennel and Grapefruit
8 ounces Halibut, skin removed and cut into 2 4ounce portions
1 bulb Fennel, plus a couple sprigs of the fronds
1/4 each Red Onion, thinly julienned
1 each Ruby Red Grapefruit
3 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted
1Tbsp. Olive oil
Slice the fennel bulb in half, from top to bottom, reserving one half. Cut out the core of the other half and cut into thin juliennes. Peel the grapefruit with a knife, making sure to remove all the white pith. Remove all the segments by cutting parallel to the membranes releasing the pulp in whole segments. Squeeze all the juice out of the membranes and reserve. Chop some of the fennel fronds to give yourself 1 tsp. Season with fish with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saute pan until hot but not smoking. Saute the fish until just done. Don’t overcook or the halibut will dry out. While the fish is cooking, melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter in another saute pan and add the fennel. Saute a couple of minutes then add a couple tablespoons of water, cover and allow the fennel to wilt. Stir, add a little more water, cover and continue to cook until fennel is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until wilted. Add the the grapefruit segments and juice. Toss until warmed through then add the remaining butter. Remove from heat and continue to toss until all the butter is melted and incorporated into the juice. To serve place the halibut on a plate, top with half the fennel-grapefruit mix and drizzle with half the sauce. Do the same on the other plate. Serve with your choice of vegetable (I served sauteed green and wax beans tossed with fresh dill, from my herb garden) and starch.