4 Stars · Fish · Fish Butter/Sauce · Grill · Nigel Slater - The Guardian

Grilled Halibut with a Crab Shell and Halibut Morsel Cream Sauce. 

This rocked.

I haven’t done Halibut on the grill for what seems like forever….actually any fish directly on the grill for that matter. The Lodge Cast Iron Pans have taken over for cooking fish outdoors on the grill. The poor neglected grill grates have little if any memory of fish directly on them. After tonight’s Halibut, I hope all of that will change.

The Halibut was a whole loin (?) which was a nice change and this was the first time I’ve ever filet’d a fish loin before. I don’t fish and usually only buy frozen filets of Mahi, Ono, Pacific Snapper and Cod from Costco. Throw in frozen Shrimp and Scallops to round things out, and those are our staples.

How crazy? I’ve been surfing since 12, live seven blocks from the beach, and clueless about real fishing and seafood. I gotta fix that and quick…especially how much my family and I enjoy cooking and eating fish and seafood.

Sauces are still on my mind when I think about fish. It’s definitely derived from all the French cookbooks I have…and most of the sauces I’ve prepared from those recipes…have complimented the fish beautifully.

With sauces constantly on my mind, I’ve had a stash of Crab Shells in my freezer since Christmas. I knew I wanted to use them in a stock but have never gotten around to it or have had a use for a crab stock. Then I seemed to recall that the shells could be used as a flavoring agent to a cream sauce similar to using shrimp shells and tails to help develop a deeper and more complex flavor. This has been front and center daily every time I pull open the freezer drawer for ice.

The buzzer finally went off the last time I went to Costco. They had some beautiful, fresh, Wild Alaskan Halibut on offer and I had to grab some. I was going to put those crab shells to use! It was time to free up some freezer space and Halibut seemed like the perfect vehicle.

I know I have some recipes in my cookbooks that incorporate crab shells as stock for a base or for cream sauces but I was feeling a bit lazy for the Halibut.  I hit the internet and found something intriguing from England. This recipe checked all the boxes.

One of the boxes is taking a meat pounder/tenderizer to the frozen Crab Shells, Lemon Grass and Garlic and giving them some good whacks. Quite fun I must say and quite the juxtaposition compared to using a Santoku knife and getting that fine mince for your mise en place. I will have to remember to start smashing some things here and there in the kitchen…Liberating to say the least.

The Crab Sauce was done a few hours in advance to dinner. We had our favorite TV show on at 6pm, Game of Thrones, and I wanted the sauce done before the show.  It was really nice having it knocked out before hand so I could go straight to lighting the chimney on the grill and then prepping the Halibut once the show ended.

What I didn’t realize was that the Halibut was a whole loin. It hit me when I opened up the package and picked up the filet/loin to give it a quick rinse under the sink. It was quite heavy and was a solid piece. It dawned on me this was something new to me.

With this situation, another bulb went off…I could use my Gerber Fish Filleting Knife. I have had this knife for years but have never used it. This was passed down to me and not sure that it has ever seen much use. It has a beautiful blade, gorgeous leather sheath, and this fantastic scoop built into the base of the handle to really get the goods. The scoop turned out to be the piece de resistance.

I have seen others use scoops or spoons to get the morsels out between the bones on filets and this was something I was excited to do. After piling up the Halibut morsels on the cutting board in a mound, I had to incorporate them somewhere. Well, how about in the crab sauce itself? Why not! Then I can save the can of crab that I was going to use for something else later down the road. This turned out to be a perfect substitute and pairing. The use of the Halibut morsels in lieu of the crab meat was delicious and seemed to flow beautifully with the grilled fish.

I did split the Crab Sauce between two ramekins and added the Halibut Morsels to one and kept the other sans Halibut as a control. Fun taste test but the Halibut version won for me. Though I did not use the crab meat in the other ramekin for a true comparison, I will next time.

All in all this added up to a fantastic dinner that I will give 4 and 3/4 stars to. As you can tell I was quite proud of all the firsts and look forward to doing this again.

The Halibut.

Coated in Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper – both sides. Oiled the grill grates well with Olive Oil. Grilled flesh side down for two minutes. Flipped with skin on grates for about three minutes. Covered with lid both times for a nice hint of smoke.

Halibut Morsels.

In saute pan, saute one clove of garlic finely minced until translucent in butter. Saute the chopped Halibut Morsels for about a minute in the butter and garlic stirring constantly. Pull from heat.  Sprinkle with minced parsley and a touch of salt to taste. Add to warmed Crab Cream Sauce. Serve along side the grilled Halibut. Stellar.

Crab Cream Sauce
From Nigel Slater The Guardian  Jun 8, 2014


Crab shell and cracked claws

Lemongrass a long plump stalk

Garlic – 2 cloves

Ginger – a large thumb

Double cream 250ml

Brown crabmeat 175g

Asparagus spears 10

White crabmeat 150g

Smash the crab shell and claws into manageable pieces and put them in a medium-sized saucepan. Crush the lemongrass with a heavy weight so it splinters, then tuck it among the crab shells. Squash the garlic cloves and drop into the crab then peel the ginger, slice into thick coins and add both to the pan. Pour in the cream and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave, covered, to infuse for about half an hour.

Warm the grill or griddle pan, lightly oil the asparagus spears, trimming the ends if necessary, then cook till they are lightly colored and still (just) crisp. Sieve the crab sauce to remove the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and shells, then stir in the brown crabmeat and warm gently.

Divide the hot asparagus between two plates, add the white crabmeat, fresh and unseasoned, then spoon over the sieved crab sauce

Note: we did not incorporate the asparagus.

Served with Brown Rice Quinoa.


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