Author Notes: This is a nice flavorful recipe that utilizes some unusual ingredients but satisfies a wide range of tastes. Though the recipe serves 6-8 you can downsize for your group by using less sauce or reserving it for later. Harissa and preserved lemon may be hard to find, but its is so worth the hunt. This sauce is zesty and exotic in feel and adds punch to the blandist of fish. I invented it for a party in an effort to have something that was light but people would talk about later. Also I realize this is probably not the technical definition of chutney but it sounded better then choppy sauce. Which is really what it is. Relish? Salsa? —Brita
Serves 6-8 people
For the fish
- 6 halibut filets (about 6 oz each)
- 3 leeks, white and pale green parts only
- 2 bulbs fennel
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
For the choppy sauce
- 1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 8 cornichons, diced
- 1 cup chopped italian parsley
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 300. Slice leeks lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch thick half moons. Rinse under cold water. Remove tough center from fennel bulb and slice into similar crescents. In a oven safe pan, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Add fennel and leeks and reduce heat to low. Cook about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until leeks are translucent. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, then cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. Let cook 1 hr stirring occasionally.
- While fennel and leeks are cooking prepare the sauce. Be sure to rinse the preserved lemons before you get to dicing and discard everything but the peel. Combine all sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Remove leek mixture from oven. Adjust oven to 400 degrees. The melted fennel and leeks should be pale and melted and will serve as a base for the fish. If your pan is big enough, add the fillets atop the mixture, otherwise transfer it to a larger casserole dish and add fillets. Salt and pepper the fish lightly and add a generous scoop of chutney atop each fillet reserving some sauce for later. Recover with aluminum foil loosely and place in oven. let cook for 12-17 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.