I had an excellent rendition of herb-crusted Arctic Char at Mity Nice Grill last week. It had a tasty, crispy crust and was drizzled with a lemon butter sauce. I wanted to do something like it at home, but I really couldn't find a recipe that approximated what I had in mind, so I decided to just wing it. No Arctic Char at Whole Foods, but the first halibut of the season looked mighty fine so that's what I decided to work with. Crispy was M.O. here. and it is hard to get crispy from the oven when you're cooking fish. Most likely, by the time you get the topping where you want it, the fish will be overdone. I decided pre-toasting the breadcrumbs would give them a head start, so that's where I began.
Harkening back to a Fine Cooking method for producing crispy oven-fried chicken, (from issue no. 84,) a method that uses a sticky sauce to adhere a pre-toasted breadcrumb topping to chicken and then finishes it in the oven, I decided to give my halibut fillets a similar treatment. First, I needed a sauce to help stick the crumbs to my halibut. Not being a huge fan of mustard, I decided a thin coating of mayo on the fillets would do the trick. I flavored the mayo with lemon zest and minced garlic and thinly spread it over the halibut. Then I pressed toasted fresh breadcrumbs flavored with fresh chopped parsely and basil onto the fillets. I was torn on whether to add parmesan to this coating and in the end I decided to add a little. The fish was roasted in a 400* for about 20 minutes and turned out nicely. The mayonnaise melts away in the oven; you don't notice it on the cooked fish but the lemon and garlic flavors remain. The crunchy topping contrasts with the tender, juicy halibut for a delicious texture in the mouth. I will do this prep again, Steve liked it a lot.