I fall into the camp that likes to start out with a recipe, then add/subtract accordingly. Lately I have been wanting to go to the “other” side. I make meals without a recipe sometimes, but I never measure or write anything down. Then of course this becomes something we want to eat again almost immediately after finishing our new favorite meal.  My reasons for choosing to start out with a recipe may be because of the following:

the intimidation factor- someone else went through trial and error to figure out why 1 cup + 2 tbls. of sugar is better than 1 cup. Who am I to rain on that sugar parade?

the wasting money factor- if it’s less than stellar, I have no one to blame but myself. I prefer to put blame on others.

my time is wasted- nothing good came out of my “experiment”. Not a good meal, and no recipe for the box. Some will say you always learn something from your mistakes. I do not fall into that camp either.

the copy factor- sometimes I start to think everything has been done. I would just be recreating something someone has already mastered in 1890 or 1990. I don’t want to just change a recipe to make it my own, if it doesn’t improve on it.

the recipe/ingredient has been overdone-  I have never figured out why asparagus wrapped in prosciutto has not retired to whatever recipe Florida is. Instead people have added things, like puff pasty. Let puff pastry be. Don’t involve it in your vegetable stick wrapped little world. I love asparagus, and I love prosciutto. So much so, I like to enjoy the taste of them. Which is why I choose to enjoy them separately. If you must involve these two, just sprinkle a little crisped prosciutto or bacon on top.

That being said, the fish above won me over, and started me on the road to not using recipes.

Except,  I did use a recipe.

I said it was a start.

I used a chimichurri sauce recipe for the halibut, and paired it with smashed fingerlings with a double cream Gouda from Holland, watercress, and the adorable Peppadew. Folks, we have a winner.

Halibut with Chimichurri

Serves 4
  • Active time:15 min
  • Start to finish:30 min
June 2008
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 (6 to 8-ounce) halibut steaks (3/4 to 1 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, shallot, red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper until salt has dissolved. Stir in parsley. Let chimichurri stand 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). See “Grilling Procedures.”
  • Pat fish dry, then brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (total).
  • Oil grill rack, then grill fish, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total.
  • Serve fish drizzled with some of chimichurri; serve remainder on the side.
Cooks’ notes: 

  • Halibut can be cooked in a hot oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over medium heat.
  • Chimichurri can be made 1 hour ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Recipe by Andrea Albin

The Lonely Radish’s notes:

I used a saute pan. The halibut was over an inch thick, so I sautéed  the fish over medium heat, four minutes each side, then a *350 oven for about four minutes.

To a bed of watercress, I added: boiled fingerlings, that were smashed with the back of a measuring cup, just enough to flatten, not destroy their integrity. I basted the fingerlings with butter, salted them, and added a piece of Gouda cheese. I broiled the fingerlings for a few minutes until cheese melted, then basted again with butter, added a grind of pepper, and placed around watercress. I plated halibut on top, sprinkled chopped peppadew around fish, and covered all with the chimichurri.

Then – a star was born.

The Peppadew or sweet piquanté pepper is grown in South Africa but it is thought to have originated in Central America. Its lineage can be traced back to the Habenero pepper but how it got transported to South Africa and how it morphed into to its present day form remains a bit of a mystery. None of that really matters now because the Peppadew has arrived in America and is getting easier to find.

Peppadews are picked and pitted and then subjected to pickling brine that is made from sugar, vinegar, salt, and spices, as well as a lot of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C- one 30gm/one oz. serving has the RDA) and calcium chloride (an ingredient used to artificially make pickled products crisp) which is why they are so crisp.

The Peppadew looks like and is about the same size as a cherry tomato. They are available in both hot and mild forms. How the same fruit can exhibit the differences in heat also remains a mystery. The mild version has mild heat and a sweet after taste. This unique taste is a bit incongruous at first but after several samplings the mild heat and the sweetness blend into a pleasant tasting crisp fruit. The hot version has the same sweet after taste but exhibits much more heat but it is equally enjoyable as the mild version. This “fruit” is very versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes and salads. They are pitted so stuffing them with various items is very easy. Try them stuffed with feta cheese!

Lester Majkowicz writes the popular Around The World Cheese blog.