Halibut is a great fish for barbecuing and I love its firm flesh, mild but slightly sweet flavour. It’s the largest flat fish in the ocean and they live in the freezing cold waters off Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland.
They used to be eaten instead of meat during Lent and were popular on Holy Days – Halibut is derived from haly (holy) and butt (flat fish). I have found a good recipe for Halibut on the BBQ which is accompanied by a Pineapple and Cilantro Salsa.
Halibut with Pineapple and Cilantro Salsa
4 halibut steaks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
¼ cup spring onions, chopped
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
½ cup strawberries, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze the 2 limes over the halibut and cook gently on the BBQ (you can wrap the fish in foil if you want to keep it moist). To make the salsa place the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Simple but delicious!
Cilantro – or Coriander – is a herb that you either love or despise. Some people find that it has a soapy flavour and others find that it has a sharp parsley-citrus flavour.
It is a member of the parsley family and has been used as a culinary herb since at least 5,000 BC. Coriander grows wild over a wide area of the Near East and southern Europe and is mentioned in Sanskrit text and in the Bible.
Pliny the Elder used the name Coriandrum after “coris”, the Greek word for “bedbug” as it was said they both emitted a similar odour.
Coriander seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen and the ancient Egyptians used the leaves in soup. The oldest coriander seeds were discovered in the Nahal Hemar cave in Israel and are thought to be over 8,000 years old.
The Chinese believe that the seeds of a coriander plant have the power to bestow immortality. They also used it in love potions as Coriander is one of the herbs thought to have aphrodisiac qualities; and in The Thousand and One Nights a man who had been childless for 40 years is cured with a coriander potion.
The Romans introduced coriander to Britain, where it has become semi naturalised in some areas. They used to use it along with vinegar and cumin to preserve meat and legions would march carrying it so they had something to flavour their bread with.
In Roman Britain it was seen as a high status food as it was considered fairly exotic. Coriander has been grown commercially for a while in Essex for the gin distillers.
The fresh leaves are an ingredient in many South Asian foods (particularly chutneys), in Chinese dishes and in Mexican dishes, (in salsa and guacamole) and as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and curries. As heat diminishes their flavour quickly, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving.
The wine I recommend to pair with the halibut is one of my favourites – Chateau Laurès 2006 (£7.25). This lovely wine is made by the Trolliet family of Chateau Martinon, who have been making wines for several generations.
The limestone based vineyards lie right in the heart of the Entre Deux Mers region near the tiny ancient commune of Gornac.
The vineyards are centuries old and the Entre Deux Mers is the oldest wine producing area of Bordeaux.
The Romans made wines here and the countryside is dotted with relics from bygone times. Benedictine monks nurtured the vines and there many 11th and 12th Romanesque Abbeys and Templar Chapels standing watch over the vineyards.
Fortified windmills stand proud against the skyline and Gornac has four of these medieval towers still standing.
Château Laurès is made from 60% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon, 10% Muscadelle – the 3 great white grapes of Entre Deux Mers. It is a brilliant gold coloured wine with the aromas of mangoes, pineapples, honey and lemons.
The Semillon really comes though on the nose giving a lovely herby touch to the lemon that dominates. The palate is nicely rich and full with a slight spritz and good acidity balancing it all out. A honeyed touch to the lemony complexity all melds together wonderfully.
Because of its good structure this Laurès will lend itself to a wide range of foods from salads and fish through to chicken. It goes well with grilled meats and goats cheeses. At 12.5% alcohol this is a food friendly wine and one that has become very popular. It makes a great summer aperitif too!