Halibut is amazing; sweet and delicate flavor that’s so wonderful fried in coconut oil. I’ll admit that coconut oil is probably my second choice when it comes to cooking fats (second behind ghee), but in this case, it’s the star fat. Pan frying fish is a Filipino thing. The fish is cooked with coconut oil (a hot commodity in the Philippines) and topped with an Adobo type sauce made from coconut aminos, garlic, Calamansi citrus, and tomato. It’s a perfectly balanced dish with a mind blowing taste and incredible silky texture.
Calamansi is a Filipino citrus that has a moderate sour level with a faint hint of sweetness. It might be hard to find in a conventional grocery store. Though I did see them mislabeled as “Key Limes.” An easy replacement is simply a 1:1 ratio of lemon juice to orange juice. Just have lemon juice in the pantry? Add a little raw honey (maybe about a teaspoon).
At first I was worried about handling Halibut. It is a gentle piece of white fish, and lots of things can overwhelm it. Still, I was curious about how it would pair with traditional Filipino ingredients. Turns out that if the balance is just right, then the dish is phenomenal.
A perfect ratio of salt, sweetness, sour, and bitterness is key. The coconut aminos (aka “Paleo soy sauce”) is my salt. And well, so is salt. Calamansi juice and tomatoes my sour. I love sour! Maybe a little too much. Sweet from the fish and coconut oil. And goodness knows I love sweets.
Bitter..bitter. Where’s my bitters? This one was tricky. You know, I’m just not a huge fan of bitter flavors. I cook down greens and vegetables until it leaves a sweet and soft flavor. And I get upset if my black coffee is bitter (that means it was processed wrong). Did you know that there are some beer drinks out there that are meant to be VERY bitter? I tried it and it’s awful. So terrible, I made an ugly face and got teased. I just can’t. Hey, different tastes right?
Still, it’s all about the balance. Things that are too sweet, too salty, or too sour are bad too. So yes, bitterness does have a little place in the overall dish. A bed of greens perhaps? Most greens are actually considered culinary ‘bitters.’ Kale, chard, collards, and even spinach. A lot of my dinners are simple meats topped above a bed of greens (I’ll discuss dessert bombs later), so I inadvertently was balancing my palette with a tad bitterness.
How about that.
- 2 Halibut Steaks (6 ounce)
- 1 teaspoon of Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1 small Onion, sliced into rings
- 1 small Ripe Tomato, diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Aminos (or soy sauce)
- 2 Tablespoons of Calamansi Juice (or 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice plus 1 Tablespoon of Orange Juice)
- 2 cups of Greens (Kale, Chard, or Spinach)
- Pat dry the halibut filets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat a frying pan to medium high and add the coconut oil.
- Add the seasoned halibut filets and cook each side for 3-4 minutes. They are done when the surface is golden brown and easily flakes.
- Remove the steaks from the pan and turn down the heat to medium.
- Saute the onions until almost translucent.
- Add the garlic and diced tomato and cook for another minute.
- Add the coconut aminos/soy sauce and juice and cook for another minute.
- Steam the greens until soft.
- Place the steaks on top of the greens and top with a little sauce.