Before I tell you stories about last night’s dinner, I want to take a few lines to thank you for reading. Despite my shameless plugs on Facebook, I really did not expect to find an audience for this compilation of personal stories, random recipes, and neurotic habits. So, I truly appreciate that you’re reading, if not for my ego’s sake, then definitely for your help in keeping Sig’s memory alive, which is really the whole point.
And now, I will regale you with seafood. Since I grew up in Boston and spent a significant amount of time in Maine, seafood is my meat and potatoes. It’s also the way we welcome newcomers into our family. The first time my mother met my dad’s parents was over a lobster dinner. Grandma covered the tabletop with newspaper, set a few large bowls in the center of the table, and supplied everyone with a bib and a pair of claw crackers. My mother had never eaten lobster before, so the scene was a shock – eye glasses spattered with lobster bits, grandma sucking the liver out of the discarded carcasses, and grandpa carefully picking the meat out of all the crevasses under the shell. I think mom was slightly horrified.
And yet, thirty years later, with her love for symbolism and planned serendipity, my mother treated Matt to lobster the first time he came home with me for dinner. It was Matt’s first time eating lobster too and he passed the test by proving to be a very eager and willing student of lobster butchery and “etiquette”.
My grandparents were at that dinner, too. They were staying with us for a month or two during Florida’s hurricane season. A few years before, grandma had developed a shellfish allergy. It was terribly tragic and the whole Adler clan grieved collectively for her loss. When we had lobster, grandma always had a piece of white fish – halibut, haddock, or cod. She always cooked her fish the same way, with a generous serving of butter, paprika, and salt, and baked until golden brown on top. The skin was her favorite part and on fish dinner nights, she would ask anyone else with leftover skin on their plate if they planned to eat it, because she would happily take care of it.
I made cod last night after a long seafood hiatus. It was a very simple preparation that grandma would appreciate. It’s no lobster, but it’s a pretty close second.
Seared Halibut and Gazpacho Salsa with Tomato Vinaigrette from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman (slightly adapted)
1 medium tomato, peeled (if desired), seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100 ml) olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
5 good grinds of pepper, or to taste
Four 6 to 8 ounce halibut filets
Olive oil to coat pan
Kosher salt and pepper
1 pound tomatoes, beefsteak, roma or cherry, seeded and diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
½ small sweet onion, such as Vidalia, diced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomato until smooth. Add sherry vinegar. With the machine running, drizzle olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring the halibut to room temperature. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, coat It evenly with olive oil. Once oil is hot, lay fish in the pan (depending on the size of your pan and how much fish you are cooking, you may need to cook this in multiple batches) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the fish is golden underneath but not sticking to the pan. Carefully flip the fillets. Cook for a few more minutes, until a fork cut through easily and the meat is opaque white and flakey.
Toss salsa ingredients together on a plate. Arrange the halibut of top. Drizzle on the vinaigrette to taste. Serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.