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Courtesy Shutters on the Beach

Roasted Halibut with Fennel Tomato Sauce. This  is a light, easy to prepare entree and especially delicious when Alaska halibut is in season.

As Dana Slatkin,  from Shutters On The Beach,  shared, “This dish satisfies a protein craving without leaving you lethargic, even on the steamiest night. Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients. Once they have been assembled, they can be left simmering on the stove while you relax or prepare the rest of the meal. Toasting the spices for a few minutes in a dry pan over medium heat will intensify their flavors. The result is an alluring light sauce that complements any white–fleshed fish.”

I think the combination of lightly searing the fish before finishing in the oven  is the secret. It avoids drying out the fish, which sometimes  happens when grilling.

SERVES:  6 – 8


1⁄4 cup extra–virgin olive oil, plus a small amount for cooking the fish

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium leeks, chopped

8 garlic cloves, minced

1 small fennel bulb with greens, chopped

4 pounds ripe plum tomatoes (about 14), seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted (see page 126)

1 tablespoon mustard seeds, toasted (see page 126)

2 bay leaves

Pinch of red pepper flakes

3 star anise, optional

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups low–sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 (6– to 8–ounce) skinless halibut fillets (preferably thick)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes


Fennel Tomato Sauce

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, celery, leeks, and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel bulb and greens. Sauté until wilted.

Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and star anise if desired.

Add the wine and enough broth to cover.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Strain through a fine–mesh sieve into another saucepan, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. The sauce can be made up to this point and refrigerated overnight.


Preheat  oven to 350ºF.

Pat the fish dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large ovenproof sauté pan, heat a thin film of olive oil over medium high heat until very hot.

Cook the fish on one side until it is nicely browned, about 4 minutes.

Carefully flip the fish over, transfer the pan to the oven, and roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the fish is opaque at the thickest part (test with the tip of a knife).


Return the sauce to a simmer. Whisk in the cubes of butter, one at a time, until incorporated.

Ladle a generous amount of sauce into warmed serving bowls and gently place the fish on top. Serve.



Try Dana’s Lemon-Ginger Lemon cookies to perfectly finish this meal. Many thanks for permission to use this recipe excerpted from “Shutters” by Clarkson Potter/Publishers.”

Next time you are in Santa Monica, discover the wonderful Shutters On The Beach hotel. In the meantime, you can check out their website

If you want to find out more about the talented chef, Dana Slatkin, who  created all the menus at the hotel and be inspired by some of her new recipes, go to Dana’s personal blog,




– The Gourmet Review

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