FFWD – Halibut with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce


If you follow French Fridays, you might notice that the fish in the dish above isn’t the one called for in this week’s recipe. My local fishmonger is an Ocean Wise establishment, which means they carry only sustainable seafood. It also means there was no skate in sight there, as it’s currently being over-fished worldwide. So instead of skate, I picked up halibut, which is a firm-fleshed recommended alternative. It’s also one of my favourites, so I was pleased to make the substitution.

A lot of conversations about ethical and healthful eating in my house revolve around my partner’s choice to move toward veganism and my philosophy of eating meat less often than I eat vegetarian. But another important part of all this, for me, is where food comes from. Sourcing wild or humanely raised meat is something I strive toward (though I don’t always succeed). I also think the same attention needs to be paid to non-animal food, as well. So, I’ve been following the controversy around Jeanette Winterson and the rabbit with interest. Many of these questions are being discussed in the wake of the Twitter frenzy her photos created. There certainly doesn’t seem to be one answer to the question of what ethical eating looks like.

In the case of this French Friday, the sustainable choice was also a delicious one. If only all ethical decisions had outcomes so rewarding. Halibut was perfect for pan-frying and serving with tangy, brown butter sauce. I couldn’t believe how well the cornichons fit into to the dish – their crunchy tartness was a nice contrast to the tender fish. I usually bake fish, but this dish reminded me that I should get my skillet out more often.

Not much else is needed for accompaniment, as Dorie points out in the head note to this recipe, so buttery rice and steamed vegetables made good companions for the fish – a perfect summer meal.

I cheated and just took a quick snapshot of the dish after saucing it, because I was eager to eat and didn’t feel like letting that beautiful halibut get cold. If you want some gorgeous photos of this week’s dish, you’ll have to go and see what the rest of my French Fridays colleagues got up to: Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce


13 thoughts on “FFWD – Halibut with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce

  1. I agree, the sauce was lovely, and I liked the cornichons in it. I am a little lazy with sourcing my food, but it is something we should all think about.

  2. I learned that skate is overfished as well, though, not until after I tried to buy it. Luckily for me, there was none to be bought. I too try to pay attention to where my food comes from, sometimes more successfully than others. It’s not always easy and I love the idea that you have a fish shop which does the work for you.

  3. This sauce was lovely…I thought it was one of the best meals I’ve prepared for French Fridays! My fishmonger ordered skate for me a few weeks ago, it was delicious…I’ve not heard of it being overfished. I’ve never even seen skate before this recipe…honestly I didn’t know what I would be getting. Your halibut looks delicious! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Lots of interesting information here.

    Teresa, happy that you enjoyed your choice and the sauce! I thought it was terrific as well. (and great work on the photo – isn’t it tricky sometimes to organize photos along with the practical desire of having something good to eat!!?)

  5. I salute you for your dedication to sourcing and buying responsibly. I hadn’t read that skate was on the watch list and was being overfished. I also went to FishWatch when choosing a substitute for Skate (which I couldn’t find) and came up with wild Alaskan Pacific cod which is being fished responsibly, so far. The poor Atlantic cod is in bad shape. I thought the sauce was fabulous. I agree with you that I need to pull out my skillet more often. Nice job, Teresa.

  6. What a great recipe, we spend our summers in Oregon and here you can only buy certain fish during certain times depending on all the other factors.

  7. Thank you for sharing the rabbit story. It was interesting reading and thought provoking.

    Yes, the skillet does need to come out more often, doesn’t it?

  8. Interesting post. Fish is a challenge for me. At the stores that are convenient for me it’s consistently hard to find fish that’s fresh, wild, sustainable, low mercury, affordable, and that we enjoy. Halibut is a great one, though. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe.

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