Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tarragon
Why This Recipe Works
When it comes to methods for cooking fish, braising is often overlooked. But this approach, which requires cooking the fish in a small amount of liquid so that it gently simmers and steams, has a lot going for it: As a moist-heat cooking method, braising is gentle and thus forgiving, all but guaranteeing moist, succulent fish. Plus, it makes a one-pot meal since the cooking liquid becomes a sauce, and it’s easy to add vegetables to the pan to cook at the same time. We chose halibut for its sweet delicate flavor and firm texture that made for easier handling. Because the portion of the fillets submerged in liquid cooks more quickly than the upper half that cooks through in the steam, we cook the fillets for a few minutes in the pan on just one side and then braise the fillets parcooked side up to even out the cooking. Vegetables that held their shape but cooked through quickly worked best. For the cooking liquid, wine supplemented by the juices released by the fish and vegetables during cooking delivered a sauce with balanced flavor and just the right amount of brightness. Butter gave it some much-needed richness and the right velvety texture.