Photo by Neni Panourgia
Provenance of Dish
The tomato confit comes from my mother. The rest is pure experimentation with what I had at hand.
For the fish:
Two halibut steaks, 12 oz total (or cod or sable)
Porcini powder, enough to cover the fish
1 TB olive oil
For the beans:
1 can organic black beans
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup very good olive oil, Greek if you can find it
1 small onion, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
A squeeze of lemon juice
A splash of dry white wine
A good pinch of chili powder
For the tomato confit:
1 ts mashed garlic
2 large tomatoes, chopped, about 2 cups total
3 TB olive oil
Salt and black pepper
In a non-reactive bowl place the fish and cover generously with salt, pepper and the porcini powder. Refrigerate for a few hours.
Make the tomato confit. I usually use tomatoes that I have frozen from the summer (wash them, core them and put them in a sheet pan in the freezer until they are frozen through. Remove them for the pan, put them in a ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer. When about to use run them under *cold* water to remove their skins and carefully chop them. You can use them now). If using fresh tomatoes plunge them in boiling water for about 10 seconds to loosen their skins and skin them. You may or may not seed them. Chop them roughly. Add them in a wide pan along with the olive oil, salt, and the garlic. Cook on low heat until they have given off most of their water and have absorbed most of the oil, about an hour. Add pepper. At this point you can use them or keep them in a glass container in the fridge under a good covering of olive where they will keep for a few weeks. Lift them out of their oil when you serve them with the fish.
Make the beans: Put the onions in a saute pan that will hold them snugly. Add the olive oil and turn the heat to high until they start sizzling. Salt them and turn the heat to medium low so that the onions mellow and get honeyed but do not burn, it's the caramelization that you are after. This can take anything from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your stove. There will be quite a bit of oil in the pan. Drain most of it and keep aside. Drain the beans and rinse well, add to the onions and turn the heat to medium to get the beans warmed through. Add some of the reserved oil as you are going ahead, enough to keep the beans glistening. Add a splash (or two) of white wine so that the sauce can come together in a nice balance of the liquids. Salt and pepper.
In the meantime turn the oven on 400F for 20 minutes. Remove the fish from the fridge, prepare enough parchment paper to make two packets, and place each piece of fish on it. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and the cilantro and wrap. Secure with twine if you have to. Place in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 10-15 minutes. It will have quite a bit of liquid when you take it out of the oven. Put the liquid in a small pan and reduce quickly over high heat for about a minute. Serve the fish bathed with its sauce, alongside the beans and the tomato confit.