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Posted on Monday Feb 17, 2014 at 11:07 PM  
Hey Allen...way back during the stone age I knew a gal that worked at a place called the Fountains. She cooked up a fish dish a couple of times for me that was on the menu there. Seems it was baked, or maybe poached white fish with a sauce made from diced tomato and onion in white wine.

Any idea what, or how that might have been cooked. I'm thinking it would be a good way to fix halibut. 
Posted on Tuesday Feb 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM  
By any chance, was the dish wrapped in paper?  That's a method the French call "en papillotte".  You would season the fish, lay it in the paper, sprinkle with onions and tomatoes, dribble a little bit of wine over it, maybe a pat of real, unsalted butter, fold/crimp the paper to seal it, then bake for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

You could also do a saute/broil type thing.  Heat your broiler.  Get all your food ingredients ready.  You want to use a pan that is safe to go from the stovetop to the broiler.  Cast Iron skillets are great for this.  You want the pan to be a little bigger than the fish being cooked.  A 10" pan for a couple halibut steaks is probably just right.  Once the broiler is hot, place a pan on the stove and get it hot.  Season your halibut.  Melt a little clarified butter (canola oil will do) in the pan.  Add the fish.  Cook until it's seared and lightly caramelized.  Flip the fish, and add some onions and tomatoes around the fish.  Place the whole thing in the broiler, close enough to the element that the fish is nicely browned and fully cooked into about 5 - 7 minutes.  Remove the pan from the broiler (be sure to use a hot pad).  Using a slotted spatula, remove the fish from the pan and plate it.  Splash just a bit of wine into the pan, off the heat, and swirl it around for a second to deglaze.  Add a tablespoon or two of cold, whole butter.  Swirl this until the butter melts and begins to thicken the "sauce".  Drizzle this over the fish, with the onions and tomatoes.

You could just bake the whole thing.  Get a baking dish, say, an 8 x 13" casserole.  Either rub the dish with oil, or spray some Pam into the pan.  Lay the fish in, and scatter the tomatoes and onions around.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper (or seasoning mix of your choice) over it all.  Splash a little bit of wine into the dish, and wrap with foil.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the fish is done.

Personally, I would go with shallots instead of onions.  Shallots have a better flavor for this kind of thing, but they are hard to find.  Reasor's should have them, and I know Nam Hai (Asian grocery store at 21st and Garnett) does.  As far as seasoning, I mentioned "salt and pepper".  You can, however, use a little Old Bay seasoning, by itself or with the S&P, or a different mix that you happen to like.

Hopefully, that helps.  If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
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Posted on Tuesday Feb 18, 2014 at 5:37 PM  
No paper, the way I remember it she just baked the fish and added the onions and tomatoes and wine for a bit about the time it was done and then used the wine and veggies as a sauce. You think it was actually that simple?
Posted on Wednesday Feb 19, 2014 at 5:23 PM  
Yep, it probably is just that simple.  The trick is probably in the seasoning.  You have to find a mix (store-bought or homemade) that you like, and use it.

Most saute dishes in restaurants are really easy.  Heat the pan, season and/or dredge the meat in flour (chicken, veal, pork, etc., I wouldn't do that with fish), sear on one side, flip it, stick the pan in the salamander (commercial broiler usually located above the stove) until the meat is almost done, remove, plate the meat, deglaze the pan with sauce, drizzle sauce over the meat.  It sounds complex, but really isn't.

Restaurant cooks make this look really easy.  They have to, as they have to make the same dish, over and over and over again, ad infinium, ad nauseum, quickly, and be consistent.  That means having all the little veggies already cut and ready to go, having a gallon or two of the sauce used ready to go, etc.  Cooking a saute dish like this at home seems to be harder, because you're doing all the prep for only one or two servings; cooks do the prep to make 30 - 40 servings.

I used to keep two carafes of cheap white wine on my work-station.  I usually had to refill one or both of them daily, before the dinner rush began.  The bar manager SWORE I was drinking the stuff.  I told him that he could put on a white jacket, and join me on the line on a slow night, and I'd show him exactly how much I was drinking (none).  After that, he started giving me boxes of the cheap wine to keep in my cooler, so I could restock as needed.  I just had to let him know when to reorder some wine.

If you don't have any white wine in the house, go to a liquor store and get a small glass bottle of Carlo Rossi Chablis.  Dirt cheap, good enough to cook with, etc. 
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Posted on Thursday Feb 20, 2014 at 8:22 AM  
Thanks, and you answered my next question about just what white wine to use....funny deal that, I use Carlo Rossi burgundy when I cook my gumbo, damn stuff ain't hardly fit to drink, but is fine for cookin'.

I'll have to try the onion, tomato, white wine on a chunk of halibut. 
Posted on Thursday Feb 20, 2014 at 6:09 PM  
Please let me know how it turns out!
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