For the Halibut

Halibut in a vibrant sauce made of orange juice. lemon juice and olive oil.

When trying out a recipe for the first time, it’s always a good sign when your husband exclaims after just one bite, “Mmm, you should make this again.”

Such was the case when I tried the “Sauteed Fillet of Halibut with Fennel and White Anchovies” recipe from the new “Cooking Without Borders” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) cookbook, of which I received a review copy.

It’s the first cookbook by the very talented New York Chef Anita Lo of Annisa restaurant in Manhattan. You probably recognize her from her appearances on “Top Chef Masters” and “Iron Chef America.”

I loved this dish as much as my husband did. To me, it’s the perfect spring-summer fish dish — healthful and light tasting, and full of vibrant citrus flavors and crunchy textures.

What really makes it is the sunshine-y sauce, which is a cinch to whip up. Fresh orange juice gets reduced until it’s syrupy. Then, lemon juice and olive oil are whisked in to round out the flavor and add unctuousness. That’s it.

The fish is simply sauteed in a hot pan. The sauce is spooned onto plates, providing lovely color. The fish goes on top, then is crowned with a fresh fennel salad enhanced with salty anchovy bits.

No doubt whomever sits down at your table to enjoy it will be pleading with you to make it again, too.

Sauteed Fillet of Halibut with Fennel and White Anchovies

(Serves 4)

For Fennel Salad:

1 bulb fennel, trimmed, tops cut off, fronds reserved and chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

4 white Spanish anchovy fillets OR 2 regular anchovy fillets, chopped

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

For the sauce:

1 cup blood orange or regular orange juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt

A few grinds of black pepper

For the halibut:

4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon Wondra flour (optional)

3 tablespoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil

Make the fennel salad: Thinly slice fennel bulb, put it in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of the chopped fennel fronds, the chives, and anchovies. Add lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and set aside.

Make the sauce: Put orange juice in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice. When cool, slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream to emulsify, then season with salt and pepper.

Make the halibut: Heat a saute pan over high heat. Season fillets on both sides with salt and pepper, then dust lightly with Wondra flour (if using). Add oil to the pan. When it is smoking, add fillets, whitest side down, and lower heat to medium-high. Cook until golden brown, then turn. Cook briefly on the other side until cooked to medium, or until a toothpick can be easily inserted into the thickest part of the fish.

To serve: Spoon a pool of the sauce on each serving plate, top with the halibut, then top the halibut with the fennel salad. Serve immediately.

From “Cooking Without Borders” by Anita Lo

More Fish Dishes to Try: The Meat Ball Shop’s Bouillabaisse Meat Balls

And: Hiro Sone’s and Lissa Doumani’s Spaghettini with Tuna and V8 Pasta Sauce

And: Joyce Goldstein’s Fish in Pine Nut Sauce

And: Campanile Tuna Noodle Casserole

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