I always get excited when I see that Fine Cooking has an article on fish because, let's face it, cooking fish is kind of my thing. I've considered renaming this blog "Fish and Veg" since it seems like that's the topic of every other post. When I opened the new issue (92,) I was especially interested because this article is on cooking fish my favorite way - by first pan searing and then roasting to finish in a hot oven. That, I think, is the best way to cook a thick fillet of fish, or a nice piece of meat like a steak/chop (if you're not cooking outside.) Broiling will never get you that crusty seared brown that direct heat on a flat, hot pan will give you. I find that broiling makes the moisture in meat and fish rise to the top and weep out, giving you a mediocre browning at best. On the other hand, if you pan sear and then try to finish cooking the whole way in the hot pan, there's a chance that your fish/meat will dry out near the surface. So searing to the crusty brown you want and then finishing in the hot, hot oven (or "sear-roasting") is the answer to perfect even cooking everytime.
OK, off the soap box and on to the article. Three recipes are offered, all working with this cooking method. One is a Spice-Rubbed Salmon, another is a Sear-Roasted Haddock or Cod with Aioli and Breadcrumbs and the third is Chinese Five Spice Rubbed Halibut with Red Pepper and Ginger. Knowing my affinity for asian flavors, you can guess that I was immediately drawn to the last one. Halibut just came into season (Hurrah!) and I got a large fillet (squeaky fresh, not frozen,) cross cut into two nice chunky rectangles. The spice rub is made with five spice powder, brown sugar, cayenne and some orange zest. You also make an interesting quick pickle of red pepper and ginger as a "relish." for the fillet. The dish came out nice but I thought the rub was a bit strong flavored for the fish. I loved the pepper relish. Loved. It. I will use this again on other things. I think this whole recipe would work great on a pork chop. The rub would go better with pork and the red pepper relish definitely would complement a chop too. I served the fish with stir-fried asparagus which are "seasonal" but not really in Illinois where we have snow on the ground.
I will make the cod recipe next because the aioli includes horseradish, but I might make it with halibut instead. I can't give these recipes because they are in the current issue. There's also a scallop recipe with pea puree that I'm dying to make but I haven't seen fresh peas in the market yet.