A few days ago, my teenage granddaughter, Edie, texted to tell me that she and her friend, Eva, would love to drive from Boston to our home in western Massachusetts for dinner and an overnight. Thrilled, I responded with a phone call to ask what she’d like me to cook. After several menu proposals, she chose pan seared halibut steaks with a corn, tomato, and avocado topping. “Sounds very summery, Mimi, she replied!
And, she was right. Corn and tomatoes are reaching their peak in our markets, and our fish counters are filled with tempting seafood. For the topping, I simply sautéed corn kernels in butter and canola oil until barely golden, and then stirred in diced tomatoes and avocado.
I used halibut fillets, but thick cod fillets work equally well. I rub the fish on both sides with a blend of curry powder, cayenne, and salt, before pan searing them in butter and oil for less than 10 minutes.
For serving, these golden browned fillets are garnished with a colorful cascade of corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Paired with turmeric scented couscous and Romano beans sprinkled with chopped spring onions, the fish was a big hit with my young guests. A warm nectarine and almond crumble offered with whipped cream for dessert carried out the summer theme!
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Pan Seared Halibut Fillets with Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Garnish
Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Garnish
2 ears corn
1 to 2 plum tomatoes
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 halibut or cod (or other mild white fish) fillets, 6 to 7 ounces each and about ¾ to 1 inch thick, with skin removed
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus extra for 1 1/2 tablespoons for deglazing pan
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoon white wine
1. For the garnish, using a sharp knife, scrape enough kernels from the ears of corn to yield 1 cup. Pat corn dry with paper towels. Quarter the tomato lengthwise and scrape out discard seeds and flesh. Cut quarters into 3/4 -inch dice to yield a generous 1/3 cup. Remove the pit if necessary from the avocado half and then cut the flesh into 3/4-inch dice.
2. In a medium, heavy skillet set over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon each butter and canola oil until hot. Add corn and sauté, stirring often, until kernels just start to take on a golden hue, about 3 minutes or more. (You can sauté corn 1 hour ahead; cover loosely with foil and leave at room temperature. Reheat over medium heat.) Add the tomatoes to the corn and stir for a few seconds. Then remove the skillet from heat and stir in avocado. Season with salt and several grinds of black pepper. Set aside while you prepare the fish.
3. For the fish, pat the fillets dry with paper towels. Mix the curry powder, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl, and rub both sides of each fillet with some of the seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and oil in a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fillets and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until golden and browned. Then use a metal spatula to turn fish and cook until golden on the other side and flesh is opaque and flakes easily, about 3 or 4 minutes more. Watch carefully as cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the fish to a serving plate. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and wine to the skillet. Stir just until butter melts--you should have about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Spoon some of this mixture over each fillet.
4. To serve, mound each fillet generously with some of the corn, tomato, and avocado garnish. Serves 4
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2021