Turkish-Spiced Halibut Skewers With Yogurt Sauce

Many people grill year-round, but our grill hibernates during the winter. 😦 Thankfully, it is unseasonably warm here this week (Yay!), so I am going to share a couple of belated grilling recipes.

This first recipe is an adaptation of a Turkish dish typically made with local swordfish and fresh bay leaves. This version, from David Tanis of The New York Times, uses firm-fleshed halibut with thinly sliced lemons and onions. The fish is only marinated for an hour, grilled, and served with a wonderful and fresh cucumber-yogurt sauce.

We ate the skewers with hummus, warm naan, Israeli couscous, and steamed spinach on the side. If grilling season is over for you, this dish can easily be replicated using a broiler. Great!

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, grated or smashed to a paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small cucumber, about 2 ounces, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Cut halibut into large chunks of equal size and thread onto skewers. You should have 4 kebabs weighing about 6 ounces each.
  2. Lay them in a shallow dish. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, lemon, minced garlic and bay leaves. Add olive oil and stir together.
  4. Spoon mixture over fish skewers and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Put yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic paste, cayenne and cucumber.
  6. Mix mint, dill and parsley together, add half to yogurt mixture, and reserve the rest. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Heat a grill or broiler. When it is hot, cook skewers for about 2 minutes per side, until just opaque. (Leave some lemon, onion and bay leaf clinging to fish, so they char a bit.)
  8. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining herb mixture, if desired. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

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Salmon with Salsa Fresca

Similar to my summer vegetable gratin post, this dish also incorporates a complete “CSA box” – plus salmon. It was a light and fresh meal. The salsa was absolutely delicious. I was inspired to make it when I received all of these beautiful tomatoes in my box.

We ate it with roasted beets and red potatoes, also from my CSA box, of course. 🙂

This dish was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I used on half of a small red onion instead of a white onion, my mixed tomatoes from my CSA share, a home-grown jalapeño, and the juice of 1 lime in the salsa. Bittman notes that grilled, broiled, roasted, or even steamed salmon (or other types of fish such as halibut or swordfish) would work equally well.

This dish is so colorful it might just be dinner party worthy too. Ready in 30 minutes makes it extra-fabulous.

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 2 large fresh ripe tomatoes, or 3 or 4 ripe plum tomatoes, or a pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, diced (and cored if large)
  • ½ large white or red onion, peeled and minced
  • ¼ habanero or 1/2 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and minced, or to taste
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper and coarse salt to taste
  • 1 salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds, preferably with skin on (can substitute halibut or swordfish)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
  1. Start a charcoal or gas grill; fire should be moderately hot and grill rack about 4 inches from heat source. Or, heat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Chop tomatoes and combine them in a bowl with onion, chili, cilantro, lime juice and some salt. Set aside. (Salsa can be made up to one hour ahead of time.)
  3. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. If grilling, rub fish with a little oil as well; put it on grill, skin side down, and let it sit for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn once (don’t worry if part of skin sticks to grill). Cook for about 3 minutes more, until medium-rare.
    If roasting, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for a minute. Add oil and, a few seconds later, salmon, skin side up. Sear for a minute, then transfer to oven and roast until medium-rare, about 10 minutes.
  4. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then remove skin, if desired. Turn over and serve, topped with salsa or passing salsa at the table.

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Rick Bayless’ Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos

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My husband loves to go fishing. He doesn’t get the opportunity to go very often, and he doesn’t have a lot of luck catching many fish, but it is a peaceful and relaxing activity for him. My son enjoys it now too! When we heard about a sunset fishing boat excursion near our home, my husband brought my son as a surprise. The boat took them out into the Long Island Sound where they both caught porgy and bass- and had a great time together! 🙂

I had to make something special with this super-fresh fish. For my son there was no question- I had to make fish tacos. I had been excited to try the “perfect fish tacos” from a recent issue of Bon Appetit. My fishermen rejected the recipe. 😦 Rick Bayless recipes are always welcome in our home, so I chose this version instead.

The batter smelled AMAZING. (I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a batter!) After cooking all of the fish, I realized that I forgot to add the garlic to the amazing-smelling batter… gasp! This may have been a first for me…. I added garlic to the creamy sauce instead, which was wonderful. Next time, I would add the garlic to the batter and the sauce! I modified the recipe below. This recipe was adapted from Mexico-One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, via rickbayless.com.

These were the best fish tacos I have ever made- and possibly the best I’ve ever eaten. Special fish! 🙂 I’m sharing this dish with my friends at Fiesta Friday #38 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Servings: about 12 tacos, 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, separated
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base
  • 1 cup beer (I used Brooklyn Brewery’s Octoberfest)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2-inch for frying (I used Canola)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish filets (preferably larger-flake, lighter-flavored fish—like halibut, sea bass, grouper, etc)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (or more) thinly sliced cabbage (preferably Napa cabbage)
  • About 1 cup salsa (such as toasted arbol chile salsa, roasted green chile salsa, roasted tomatillo salsa or even one of the Mexican hot sauces like Tamazula or Valentina) (I used Frontera Chipotle Salsa)
  • 2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
  1. Make the batter: Finely chop the garlic, sprinkle generously with salt, then mash back and forth with the side of your knife across your cutting board until crushed to a puree. Scrape into a medium bowl and add the oregano, black pepper, mustard, chicken base, beer, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet to 370 degrees. (I used a candy thermometer.) While the oil is heating, cut the fish into pieces about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch square. Use a pair of tongs to pick up a piece of fish, dip it completely into the batter, and lay it into the oil. Continue with a few more pieces of fish, filling the hot oil with an uncrowded layer. Fry, turning the pieces regularly, until deep golden and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven on a wire rack set over a sheet pan while you fry the rest of the fish.
  3. Make the sauce: Push the 2 remaining garlic cloves through a garlic press. Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream and milk. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
  4. Serve the sauce along with the cabbage, salsa, warm corn tortillas, limes and the crispy fish for everyone to make tacos.

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