As we noted a week or so ago, herbs are the first plants in our garden that really “pop” with the coming of spring. And while we get plenty of fresh goodies from the farmers market, there is nothing quite like getting the first taste of produce from our own garden. It sort of “hardens” the idea that spring is really here (for us, at least). Right now we have plenty of mint (cocktails on the way), marjoram and oregano, but this spring our tarragon (finally) took off. We couldn’t wait to use it.
And we knew exactly how we wanted to use the tarragon, as a flavoring for roasted fish. Here in Norcal, that usually means local halibut, rock cod/rockfish or salmon. In this case we use halibut, but any firm white fish will do. As for the cooking method, you can go sous-vide (and it would be great), but we also have a relatively foolproof roasting method for fish. We simply create a bed of citrus and herbs for the fish, add the fish and then layer on a bunch of butter, salt, pepper, more herbs and more citrus. This method also works with other herbs (thyme is one of our favorites), just make sure to bruise the herbs before you layer them in, this releases the oils and gets the flavor into the dish. Then roast the fish at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness) and serve.
So now that we had the herbs and the fish dialed, the big question was the sauce. A little internet search brought us to a tarragon and halibut recipe with a hazelnut and brown butter sauce from Bon Appetit. Nice. We adapted the recipe, particularly how we cook the fish, but also played a bit with the brown butter recipe. But the addition of the hazelnuts to the brown butter was all Bon Appetit’s, and we will certainly give credit to them for a good idea. This is a good extra touch and takes the sauce over the top.
Not that you can go wrong with brown butter sauce. If you have butter in your fridge and 10 minutes, you have a perfect sauce waiting to happen. Brown butter is easy to make and works beautifully with pasta, fish or earthy veggies. A sauce you need in your toolkit. The key is to cook the butter at medium heat until the milk solids get brown (not black, if you get close to dark brown, stop cooking the sauce) and develop a nutty flavor and aroma. You then just add seasoning and some herbs, sage is a natural fit but tarragon also works very well.
The last piece of the puzzle for this sauce was to add the chopped hazelnuts and a dash of lemon juice. The hazelnuts add more nutty flavor, but also some needed crunch to the dish. The lemon adds some acid and sourness to match the rich butter and fish. Overall you get sweet fish, savory brown butter and hazelnuts, earthy and herbal notes from the tarragon and acidity from the lemons that cleans the palate for the next bite. The extra bonus is that the brown butter sauce works beautifully with roasted asparagus (another spring crop), so we just roasted some asparagus spears and served them with the fish and the brown butter. Excellent, and all in less than 45 minutes. Like we said, we couldn’t wait to use our herbs…
Roasted Halibut With Tarragon and Hazelnut Brown Butter:
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Notes Before You Start:
- The best way to check for doneness on fish is to use a digital thermometer. We think it is the most important kitchen tool after a sharp chef’s knife. If you don’t have one, the best way to check is to cut into the fish and look. Otherwise, pull the fish from the heat just before it’s done, it will keep cooking in residual heat.
- Many resources will say halibut needs to be cooked to 145 degrees to be “safe”, we prefer it less cooked, closer to 130-135 degrees.
What You Get: A rich, flavorful and easy fish dinner in about 45 minutes.
What You Need: No special equipment required, but a digital thermometer would be nice.
How Long? About 45 minutes with 20 minutes of active time. Anytime dish.
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds halibut, skin removed
- 1 large bunch of fresh tarragon
- 2 large lemons thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a baking pan and put it in the oven. Cook the hazelnuts until lightly brown, about 8-10 minutes, and remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then rub off the skins (most of them, anyway) with a kitchen towel. Roughly chop and set aside.
- Keep the oven at 350 degrees. Rub the tarragon between your hands until very fragrant. Then, on a large baking sheet, layer on half of the tarragon and lemon slices. Then layer on the fish, dot with half of the butter, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, the rest of the tarragon and the rest of the lemon slices. Place in the oven and cook until done, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut the filet(s) into portions for serving.
- While the fish cooks, place the rest of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until the butter foams and then browns (don’t let it get close to black), 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the hazelnuts, taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and the lemon juice.
- Place the fish on plates, with some of the tarragon and lemon slices. Spoon on the brown butter and hazelnut sauce. Serve.
- Mahi-Mahi with Tarragon Beurre Blanc (theycallherhotsauce.wordpress.com)
- Asparagus – Green Is More Than Money (kiefferscooks.com)
- Grilled Halibut served with a Purple Yam/Bell Pepper/Macadamia Puree (paleogolly.wordpress.com)
- Tarragon Chicken with Mushroom-Zucchini Orzo (theycallherhotsauce.wordpress.com)
- SUCCULENT TROUT FILLETS COATED WITH A DECADENT TARRAGON & BUTTER MIXTURE – Tasty & easy “Good Friday” lunch or dinner! (powerfoodsfitness.com)
Reblogged this on trendbytes and commented:
Lordy, this looks too good not to repost!
Let’s have this for dinner tonight, shall we?
>________________________________ > From: Putney Farm >To: firstname.lastname@example.org >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:38:27 PM >Subject: [New post] Roasted Halibut With Tarragon and Hazelnut Brown Butter > > WordPress.com >putneyfarm posted: “As we noted a week or so ago, herbs are the first plants in our garden that really “pop” with the coming of spring. And while we get plenty of fresh goodies from the farmers market, there is nothing quite like getting the first taste of produce from our o” >
Happy to serve it if you are in Norcal…
Reblogged this on One Giant Kitchen and commented:
With the weather warming up, this is a great recipe for all of the seafood lovers out there!
Oh so beautiful! So delicious with the fresh tarragon and the brown nut butter 🙂
Thanks! Most appreciated.
This looks fantastic! Really savory and delicious sounding, not to mention a beautiful dish.
Thanks. We do a lot of brown butter sauces (the kids love it on pasta) so it is nice to spiff it up a bit.
I am sooooo making this!
Hope you enjoy it!
This is so good … and of course the photo just make it … to HAVE to do. Halibut is a fantastic fish, but so expensive over here, nearly goes bankrupt when buying 4 pieces, but I will delight myself or I will try it with salmon. So this will be bookmarked.
That was very soon back from you gate away – welcome back to the fresh herbs.
Forgotten I agree about a thermostat. Very important tool.
Thanks. This would work well with salmon. We might just go a bit heavier on the tarragon and lemon to match the richness of the fish. The asparagus would also go even better with the salmon…
Will do so … thanks for the advice. *smile
You certainly don’t need any advice…;-)
Looks great! In French brown butter is called beurre noisette, and hazelnut is also noisette. I’d cook the halibut to even less than 130 degrees. Fish can’t be ‘safe’ and juicy, so I just use fresh fish. Great post!
Thanks, and we agree on temperature (but want to give both the “safe” and tasty versions). We would go slightly under 130 if cooking sous-vide.
I live in Alaska and fish for halibut frequently. Halibut is a wormy fish and the parasites can make you sick (salmon can be wormy too). I would recommend not going too low on the temperature. I think 135 degrees is the lowest I would go personally.
FYI, Halibut and salmon are also fish that you cannot serve as sushi without freezing first…even the best sushi restaurants freeze salmon and halibut for 36 hours minimum before using as sushi..
Thanks and we will make the point in the next recipes.
Making art as always. Lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks! We like to think of cooking as art you can make every day, so we appreciate the comment.
I would be honored to be served this. What time shall I arrive?
I caught halibut once fishing up in Alaska, but moved to Germany a week or so later and never got to enjoy the fish–I sent it off to friends to enjoy.
You are always welcome. And how big was the halibut? The Alaskan ones get HUGE…and still very tasty.
Tarrgon is one of my favorite herbs. I would never have thought to pair it with hazelnuts. Looks delicious!
Thanks. We were a bit surprised as well, but the hazelnuts just amplify the nutty flavor of the brown butter and add texture, it works quite well and we will also use the sauce for veggies as well.
Yum, love the sound of this, bookmarked for the future!
Reblogged this on Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company and commented:
I know it is so exciting to be picking my own parsley, mint, tarragon & more.
This is delicious! I love hazelnuts and always enjoy tarragon!
Thanks. This one is a keeper, particularly the hazelnut brown butter and herbs. Pretty sure it would work on anything.
Yum! I love the idea of hazelnuts on fish. 😉
Thanks, way better than we expected!
I’ve never done this: “We simply create a bed of citrus and herbs for the fish, add the fish…” But I am trying it this week. Looks fantastic!
Hope you like it. We use this approach with most white fish and simply play with the herbs based on the other ingredients. You can also tent with foil and add a splash of wine if using a fish that dries our easily…
Mmmm, thank you!
– I thought “buerre noisette” too, when I saw the dish! It looks heavenly in your photos, and reminds me fondly of my French restaurant cooking days 🙂 I think it be very nice also with some Colorado trout…
We didn’t know about buerre noisette, but now we do. The French always seem to have the good stuff first! (glad they share)
And it would work very well with trout, we think.
I’ll let you know, after I find some (fish some?!) local trout!
Reblogged this on medtitou31.
Reblogged this on Recipes For You 2013 and commented:
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I tried this the other night and it was heavenly! Added such a lovely flavour to the fish. My favourite husband was very pleased.
So glad you liked it- and thanks for letting us know!
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Thanks! Most appreciated…