Curry up

photo by Christy Gell

Pan-seared Pacific halibut with creamy apple-curry sauce, toasted cumin seeds, roasted red pears and parsnips.  Being shy in the background: an arugula salad with roasted cashews and a pomegranate-shallot-yogurt dressing.

Properly searing a piece of fish at home might cost you some atmospheric purity– but in exchange you are rewarded with the luscious crunchy/tender union that is the joy of the fish lover.  I always use my trusty cast iron skillet to sear my fish, heated almost to smoking, with a small amount of oil.  (If it’s a thick piece, I slide the skillet into a hot oven to finish it off.)

This halibut dish pairs a perfectly seared fillet with a lush and spicy sauce, made using sauteed onions, shallots, green apples, red curry paste, lime juice, and half-n-half.  

As you take your first bite, and push your fork through crisp salty coriander-dusted exterior, through the milky smooth flesh of the halibut, scooping up the creamy ochre sauce below– it might seem a bit rich…but then the acidity of the lime breaks through, cutting the richness of the cream and keeping everything in harmony.  It’s pretty tasty stuff.

The sticky candied crunchiness of the roasted pears and parsnips makes a great plate partner to the earthy heat of the spices in the sauce.  Roasting these two together is such a simple preparation, but it hits all the right notes.  (Try them with roasted lemon chicken or seared pork chops– it’s caramelized spicy-sweet perfection.)

I kept the apple in the curry sauce tender, but not falling apart, so that the texture and tartness of the diced fruit would balance the meltingly soft presence of the onions. And bite after bite, you get the lovely sensation of the cumin seeds sparking with their crunchy earthy savoriness.

As another balancing factor to the plate, I improvised a tangy-sweet-sour pomegranate, shallot, and yogurt dressing, which I used to dress some wild arugula. A handful of buttery roasted cashews completes the salad trinity.