Maximize flavor by skewering fish
BY LYNDA BALSLEV
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Weekends are made for grilling, and this weekend was no different. California halibut is in season, and while halibut’s firm flesh is ideal for roasting thick filets on the grill, I prefer to cut the fish into chunks, quickly marinate them and thread them on skewers. By doing this, more of the fish flesh is exposed to the flavors of the marinade, and there are more edges and corners exposed to the flames of the grill to crisp and char (which are the best bits). I like to thread the fish with vegetables, such as colorful bell peppers and onion. The vegetables add flavor to the fish and bright color and freshness to the skewers — plus they are a great way to stretch pricey fish to feed a crowd.
The key to these skewers is the marinade, which has an unlikely ingredient: coarsely grated yellow onion. The onion pulp and juices add natural sweetness and bite to the marinade and nicely balance its salt and acid. Any thick, firm flesh fish, such as halibut, tuna or swordfish, can handle a longer marinating time, upward of 2 hours, but 30 minutes to 1 hour is sufficient to infuse flavor.
When assembling skewers, make sure all the ingredients are cut in uniform size, 1 to 1¼ inches, including any vegetables that may be threaded along with the fish, to ensure even cooking. Bamboo skewers should be soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes before assembling. This will help to prevent them from burning while grilling.
Grilled Halibut and Vegetable Skewers
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour for marinating plus 20 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients for marinade:
¼ cup coarsely grated yellow onion with juices, about 1/2 small onion
¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for skewers:
2 pounds halibut, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 red, yellow and/or green bell peppers, seeded, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 large red onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
Parsley sprigs for garnish (optional)
Lemon wedges for serving
Whisk the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the halibut chunks and gently turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
While the halibut is marinating, soak 8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Thread the fish on the skewers, beginning and ending with the halibut and alternating with onions and peppers. Lightly brush the vegetables with some of the marinade.
Grill the skewers over direct medium heat, until the fish is charred in places and just cooked through, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter, garnish with parsley sprigs and serve warm with lemon wedges.
Lynda Balslev is the co-author of “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.