Pan-Fried Halibut with Sea Beans, Asparagus & Saffron Potatoes

Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press 2008)

In the original recipe, British restaurateurs and partners Ottolenghi and Tamimi pair salty sea beans with saffron-scented potatoes, earthy asparagus, sweet scallops, and roasted garlic aioli. I used gorgeous, über-fresh Alaska halibut instead of scallops, decided roasting garlic was unnecessary, doubled the sea beans, and threw in Aleppo pepper because it tastes good. I used golden extra virgin olive oil. It colored the aioli to match saffron potatoes. Its flavor was peppery, tempered by the lush richness of olive oil. For milder aioli, use 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup canola oil. With two pots cooking at the same time, followed by two frying pans sizzling together, this dish goes together quickly, despite its several components. Sea Beans, Asparagus & Saffron Potatoes may be served as a side dish for any meal (without the halibut, of course).

Fish:

  • 1 3/4 – 2 pounds skinless halibut or rockfish fillet, cut into 1 1/2” pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Aioli:

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely grated or pureed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Vegetables:

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4” dice
  • Large pinch saffron strands
  • 1 cup cleaned sea beans
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut in 1” lengths
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or hot paprika (optional)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Garnish (Optional):

  • 1 small tomato, quartered, seeded, and cut into 1/4 dice

Prep Fish: Season chunks of halibut with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Set aside while preparing the aioli and vegetables.

Make Aioli: Whisk together garlic, egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Slowly, starting drop-by-drop, whisk olive oil into remaining ingredients to form thick emulsion.

Prep Vegetables: Bring two pots of water to a boil, one pot with salt and saffron added; the other pot with plain water. Add potatoes to saffron water and cook until done but still slightly firm, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and reserve.

While potatoes are cooking, add sea beans to boiling pot of plain water. Cook for 30 seconds and remove sea beans to bowl of ice water. When sea beans are cool, remove from water and reserve.

Add asparagus to boiling sea bean cooking water; cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove asparagus to bowl of ice water. When asparagus is cool, remove from water and reserve.

Pan-Fry Vegetables and Fish:  Heat cast iron skillet with 2 Tbsp. olive oil until hot. Add saffron potatoes. Toss potatoes to coat with olive oil, season with Aleppo pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, turning regularly, until potatoes are lightly browned and crispy.

When potatoes are almost done, heat second cast iron skillet with 2 Tbsp. olive oil until hot.

Add asparagus to skillet with potatoes, turn to distribute asparagus and coat them with oil. Add fish to second skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high. Turn fish over. Add sea beans to skillet with potatoes and toss to combine. Fish should now be done (small pieces cook quickly). If not, cook until done.

Assemble: Divide vegetables between four plates. Place fish pieces over vegetables. Drizzle vegetables and fish with aioli. Garnish with tomatoes. Serve immediately.

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