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Need help refining this halibut “recipe” from Alaska

  • j

A friend of mine just returned from a fishing trip to Seward, Alaska, and brought Halibut back. The woman who ran the hotel where he stayed gave him a halibut recipe. Not really a formal recipe, but more of a barebones set of directions. He prepared about 6 fillets in casserole dish. The preparation consisted of putting the fillets on a bed of apples & onions, and covering it with a layer of parm & mayo mixed together. The flavors were really good, but different from any fish dish I’ve ever had. The apple flavor really paired well with the fish. This is a recipe I’d like to make myself, but try to tweak it & improve it. It's one of those that is good, but has the potential to be reallllly good if tweaked. Right off hand, I think I’d get a better carmelization of the onions & apples. One problem also, was that there was a lot of liquid in the dish when served. I’d think that a longer cooking time before hand on the apple/onion would not only carmelize, but also sweat off some of the water.

There was a lot of mayo in the topping. Should I stay with mayo, or use something else? Or just use only enough to bind with the parm. How about adding panko to the topping? Everyone was surprised that the topping had mayo, but agreed that the topping tasted good. Any recs. on the cooking time/temp?

Any other recommendations? Has anyone else come across a recipe like this?
Here’s the recipe as given to me:

“The topping on that dish was 1/2 fresh parmesan cheese and ½ mayonnaise…..go figure.
The bottom was thinly sliced apple and thinly sliced onion sautéed in butter.
I think it would have worked better to cook the fish a little first since the topping seemed to really slow down the cooking.
The woman that told me about the recipe told me to cook it all at 475 for 10 to 12 minutes. I had that in the over for more like 45 minutes…??? She did not mention when to add the topping.”

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  1. It is a bit of a strange combination, what with the apples & onions AND parmesan/mayo but if it works, why not? First off, I see that the extra liquid is coming from the combination of apples, onions, butter and the fish; each gives off moisture when cooking. I agree that the onions should be caramelized ahead; I'd then toss the apples in after that for the bed that the fish will be cooked on, which will cook in the oven. What cut of Halibut are you using? Filets, steaks or a whole halibut? Each will determine how long to cook in the oven; of course, whole fish or steaks take longer.

    Personally, I don't think adding panko will add anything to the fish...seems to me that it would become soggy on top of that mayo/parmesan combo...also, I think adding thyme to the mix would enhance the dish.

    1. I'd probably put the sauteed apples & onions in the oven until they started to carmelize, and then place the filets over top, the filets have been brushed with a thin coating of the parm/mayo mix. I agree that thyme added into the components would be a nice accent to this dish. Rosemary is another possibility, but with a light hand since it is such a strong herb.

      1. I would trade onions for leeks so they don't over power the fish.

        Can you remove the fish and then put the pan on the stovetop and reduce the liquid a little that way? Or maybe just serve it over rice or quinoa to soak up some of the liquid

        1. This recipe sounds a little much to me, but I think a squeeze of lemon juice couldn't hurt.

          1. Halibut, mayo, parmesan, and apple?

            If you have good fish there are countless better options.

            4 Replies
            1. re: AndrewK512

              The OP liked that combination, so a contrary opinion does not contribute to this topic.

              I have an old fundraiser cookbook from the association of the Gloucester, MA, fishermen's wives. That's where I learned to use mayo in place of egg to adhere bread crumbs when baking fish, so the idea of mayo in fish topping has been around for at least a generation.
              I think you are correct in wanting to pre-cook the apple and onion. This could be either on the stovetop or in the oven. Also, I would use a baking pan that is considerably larger than you'd normally use. Pile the fish-topped apple/onion mixture in the middle, and the juices that run off will reduce in the oven.

              1. re: greygarious

                I agree with greygarious about the mayo/breadcrumb topping. It's been around for years and baking fish, whole or fillets, on layered vegetables is a classic method of cooking. fresh fish. Here's what I do:

                The bottom of an oval baking dish big enough to hold the fish is smeared with EVOO and set aside. Oven is preheated to 400F. Several baking potatoes are peeled and sliced in rounds then layered in the baking dish. Here you could add layers of your onions and apples.
                Each layer is sprinkled with minced garlic, chopped thyme leaves, S & P, and olive oil.
                Put into the oven to to get a head start on the fish.....bake for 20 minutes. The potatoes will absorb some of the liquid thrown off by the fish and wil taste delicious at the finish.

                Season the fillets all over with EVOO and S & P. Put the fish on top of the potatoes/onions/apples, add the topping and lightly season. Bake for 15 minutes per inch.

                1. re: Gio

                  Thanks greygarious & Gio, I appreciate your understanding the intent of my post. Having grown up on the Virginia coast, I've got a real appreciation of fresh seafood and how to cook it to accenuate, not overpower its natural flavor.The pairing of the cooked apple & onion with the fish was a pairing I wouldn't have imagined would go together. Something I've never had in all my years of eating seafood. Hey, if you have a new experience - explore it & find out how to repeat it, if not improve it. I've had fish where onion was added & overpowered the delicate flavor of the fish. I want to avoid this. I appreciate the input from all. That's why I love Chowhound

                  1. re: Jibe

                    What about subbing creme fraiche for half of the mayo? That would make it luxurious.

            2. Apples and onions: cook separately in sautee pan, until apples are golden brown on one side, flip, and then put into the oven.

              in my family, we put the mayonnaise on the fish and then put the fish in the oven, 15 minutes sounds about right. Fresh thyme, parsley, and lemon zest would all be nice additions. 45 minutes at 475 is what I do for a large chicken, I can't imagine doing that to fish. Was it cold from the refrigerator?