Monday, June 2, 2014

Coconut Lime Halibut

I'd had the idea for this fish topping for a couple of days.  One of Scott's favourite meals is halibut on pea and basil risotto, so I was thinking of doing that, but the Italian risotto and the tropical fish didn't really seem to work together until I was struck with inspiration on the way to the Farmers Market on Saturday.  The inspiration was not the fresh produce at the market like you might expect, instead it was a gaudy advertisement for Tequila Lime Chicken at a fast food Tex Mex place.  As I drove by, I had the idea to use tequila instead of white wine for the risotto, and the result is this brightly flavoured party in your mouth.  Any part of this dish can be made on its own or paired with other dishes if you wish.  It looks like a lot of ingredients, but many of them are repeated.  I've just split them up to make it a bit easier.

Serves 2.


2 pieces of fresh halibut or other firm white fish such as cod
1 Tbsp coconut oil
juice of half a lime
salt, pepper

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup spinach
2 Tbsp basil
zest of one lime
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

1Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup arborio rice, uncooked
2 Tbsp tequila
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, WARM
1/2 cup peas
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
salt, pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small food processor, blend together the coconut, spinach, basil, lime zest, salt, and sugar.  Set aside until later.

3. In an oven proof dish, rub a bit of the coconut oil on the bottom of the dish and place the fish on top.  Cover with the remaining coconut oil, the lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Just use a pinch of salt since the topping contains salt.

4. In a medium sauce pan, melt the coconut oil and the butter.  Sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft and translucent.  Add the dry rice to the pan and stir until coated.  Continue stirring for another minute.

5. Add the tequila and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until it has evaporated.  Turn the burner down to medium-low.  Add approximately 1/2 a cup of the warm stock to the pot and continue to stir.  This will develop the starch in the rice and result in a creamy risotto.  When the stock has almost completely evaporated, add another 1/2 cup.  Continue doing this until the stock is all absorbed and the rice is cooked through.  It will take 25 - 30 minutes.  Continue to stir regularly.

6. When there is about 20 minutes left in the cooking time of the rice, put the halibut in the oven.

7. When the rice is cooked through, add the frozen peas, spinach, and basil.  Cook for another 3 minutes until the peas are cooked.  Season with salt and pepper.

8. Plate the risotto with the halibut on top (squeeze on a bit more lime juice, if needed).  Top with the coconut lime crumble and enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. Buy a good quality virgin coconut oil.  For this recipe, you want one that has a coconut flavour.  If you buy regular coconut oil, it will not have a coconut flavour.  There are supposedly many health benefits to cooking with coconut oil.  It has a high smoking point, so it will not go rancid as easily as if you sauté with olive oil.  Also, it is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which apparently do not absorb into the body as readily as short and long-chain ones do...

2. You cannot make risotto with regular rice because the starch content is not high enough.  Make sure you buy arborio.  It is in all grocery stores, you just have to look for it.

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