The creamy pinkish-white halibut I purchased at my favorite seafood store, Heller’s was the perfect match for a recipe on Friday’s episode of The Chew. The episode, tied in for Mother’s Day was titled, “Kitchen wisdom, things you learn from your mother about cooking”. This recipe shared by Michael Symon was not so much about things you learn from your mother, but treating your mom with a dinner she would be more likely to order out at a restaurant but probably wouldn’t want to cook at home
The recipe for wood planked halibut with herb salad sounded interesting and a bit different than how I usually prepare halibut. Michael chose halibut because it is in season and reasonably priced. Cod would be a good substitute. We have been using the cedar plank method of cooking for several years now but have only used it with salmon. I thought the delicate flavor of the halibut would be complemented nicely by the cedar.
The first step in the recipe is to soak the wood planks, he was using three for three pounds of fish. Wood planks are becoming more readily available in grocery stores, many times they are set up with the barbecue displays. Most of the ones I have seen are cedar. Chef Symon said he was using an oak plank. Be sure to soak your plank for several hours, even overnight. You will need something to weight it down so it doesn’t float to the top, I use a heavy marble mortar. While you are soaking one plank for dinner that night, soak a second along with it, wrap it in foil and store it in the freezer for the next time. Michael said to soak it in salt water to season the underside of the fish,
The first discrepancy in the recipe came with the proportions for the glaze. The online recipe called for quarter cup of soy sauce a tablespoon of hot Chinese mustard and 2 tablespoons of honey. On the television program, chef Symon said to use equal parts of each. That’s straight from the chef’s mouth so that’s how I followed the recipe.
The online recipe called for 3 pounds of fish, by my estimates, that could serve 6 to 8 people depending on portion size. The online recipe stated it served four, those are pretty healthy portion sizes. I had a little less than a pound to serve two people, so I cut back on the glaze accordingly. Chinese mustard is the condiment in little packets you might have stuffed in the butter keeper in your refrigerator. Unfortunately I didn’t have any and couldn’t find any in my local supermarket. So I added about a quarter teaspoon of wasabi to some Dijon mustard. You can adjust the heat to your own liking, or skip the wasabi completely. Whisk the ingredients together, put half in a bowl to glaze the fish before cooking and the other half in a bowl as a finishing glaze.
Season the halibut with salt-and-pepper on both sides, if you don’t like to see black specks on your white fish, use white pepper instead. Place the fish, skin side down on the plank. Michael puts his fish on a foil lined baking tray for easy clean up. Joe, who is the resident fish cooker, put our well soaked board directly on the oven rack. . Brush the first half of the glaze on the fish. This is where discrepancy number three comes in. The online written recipe states to cook the fish for 30 minutes. On the TV program, Chef Symon says it cooks in about 8 minutes or 5 under the broiler! Where is the truth here? We rely on the Canadian fisheries method of cooking fish which estimates the total cooking time of any fish to be 10 minutes (maybe even a little less ) for every inch of thickness, measuring at the thickest part at 450°F.
While the fish is cooking, you will have time to make the herb salad. It’s a combination of thinly sliced radishes, cilantro, and scallions tossed with lime juice and extra-virgin olive oil. We just finished our first crop of radishes and there’s lots of cilantro coming up “wild” in the circle garden. Don’t despair cilantro haters, Michael said any soft herb (as opposed to one that is woody, like rosemary) could be used. That would include parsley, dill and chervil. The amount of herb salad for the online recipe feeding four people/three pounds of fish was a reasonable portion for two so scale up the recipe if you are cooking a larger quantity of fish.
I would definitely make this recipe again, the wood smoke lightly permeates the fish and the kitchen, an added bonus. The glaze is easy, using mostly pantry ingredients. Michael Symon also pointed out that this method for cooking fish could be easily done on the grill, an added bonus for the summer months to come.
Wood Planked Halibut with Herb Salad
- 2 T tamari or soy sauce
- 2 T dijon style mustard
- ¼t wasabi from a tube, more or less to taste
- 2 T honey
- 12-16 oz halibut
- 1 c thinly shaved radish
- ½ c cilantro leaves
- ½ c scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 3 T olive oil
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 cedar plank submerged in cold water for 2 hours and up to overnight
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°F Line a baking sheet with foil and place the plank on it.
- In a medium sized bowl add the soy, mustard, wasabi and honey. Mix until smooth. Divide the glaze evenly into two bowls.
- Season the halibut on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on the plank. Brush the contents of the first bowl evenly over the fish. Measure the fish at it’s thickest point to calculate the amount of time it needs to cook. The Canadian fisheries method of cooking fish is ten minutes per inch, measuring at the thickest part of the fillet, start checking at eight minutes, halibut is a fish that “puffs up” when cooked so a little additional time may be needed. Don’t overcook, fish still continues to cook after you take it off the heat. Remove fish from oven and brush with additional glaze.
- While the fish is cooking add radishes, scallions and cilantro to a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and lime juice, toss to combine.
- Serve halibut with herb salad.