Paula: When the guy behind the seafood counter tried to steer me away from halibut, explaining that he would avoid that variety for the grill, I smiled politely and purchased two big fillets. Folks are intimidated to grill varieties of white fish like sea bass, cod, or halibut, because they’re delicate and leaner than oiler fish such as tuna, swordfish, and mahi mahi. (The fear being that the former will dry out and/or fall apart when flipped). But there’s an easy remedy preparing white fish over a bed of charcoal: sizzle the fish in a preheated cast iron skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and a few aromatics, and don’t bother flipping it.
Scott: I love this idea because the PK Grill is so well suited to this style of cooking. You can drop the fish into the cast iron and then close the lid, and maybe even close the damper over the skillet for a bit of extra smoke, and let the magic happen.
Paula: Exactly, and even for a short cook time, the fish benefits from the heat and distinct aromas of cooking over fire. Add a handful of vegetables to the skillet, like cherry tomatoes, asparagus, or sugar snap peas, and you have a one-skillet meal (just add rice or crusty bread and a bottle of cold wine) that’s perfect for a summer evening.
Scott: Don’t forget to throw the bread in the skillet or directly on the cooking grate, with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of The Usual for a toasty accoutrement. That last part was French.
Paula: You’re speaking my language, à bientôt!
Skillet-Grilled Halibut with Fresh Herbs & Tomatoes
Serves 2 to 4
- Two 8-to 10-ounce halibut filets
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon The Usual
- 4-6 sprigs fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage, oregano or tarragon
- Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high.
While the grill heats, place the halibut filets on a plate, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, and season with The Usual. Use your fingers to evenly distribute the oil and spices. Top each filet with herb sprigs.
Clean and oil the grill grates. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place a large cast iron skillet over direct heat for 10 minutes. When you’re ready to cook, drizzle the hot skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and swirl the pan to evenly coat. Place the halibut in the skillet, (rearranging herbs as needed) and then top of the fish with another drizzle of olive oil. Place the halved tomatoes around the fish (everything should be sizzling), close grill, vent for smoking and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through and the tomatoes are blistered. Once or twice during the cooking process, open the grill, use a spoon to baste top of fish with the seasoned oil, and immediately close the grill (rotating skillet as needed for even cooking).
Allow the fish to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve immediately with crusty bread.
Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.
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