Sous-Vide Chile Verde Halibut with Guava Glaze

Sous-vide cooking is a method that’s been around since the 70’s, but has just recently gained popularity in the mainstream.  In practical terms, it means putting your protein in a plastic bag and cooking it in warm water for longer than normal.  The benefit to sous-vide, particularly in this recipe, is that it keeps the structure of your proteins intact – our fish won’t toughen up or fall apart during cooking. 

I’m using a chile verde salt from SaltWorks, a gourmet salt company based in Woodinville, Washington.  I’ve recently been in a major salt bender and SaltWorks and Secret Stash Sea Salts have been my pushers.  You’ll see more on that next week.  Flavored salts like these are an excellent way to add flavor without adding additional work. 

Makes: sous-per duper dinner for two
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 3/4 – 1lb halibut fillet, skin removed
  • 1 tsp. chile verde salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag
  • 1/2 can Kerns Guava Nectar

  1. Pat the halibut fillet dry and coat all sides with the chile verde salt, white pepper and olive oil. 
  2. Place the fillet in a zip top bag and place a sprig of rosemary (if using) on the top and bottom of the fillet.  If you’re lucky enough to own a vacu-seal machine, use it to suck the air out of the bag.  For the rest of us (and our pseudo-sous-vide) just try to get as much air as possible out of the bag.
  3. Fill a large stockpot with warm water over medium-low heat.  You’ll want to bring the water to 132°F, but not much hotter.  If you paid attention in chemistry class, you’ll know that the water won’t be close to boiling at this temperature. 
  4. Submerge the bottom of the bag in the water, leaving the top above the water line so as not to introduce any accidental leakage.  Cook until the halibut feels slightly firm, about 6-8 minutes.  You can test the doneness by gently flexing the fillet in the bag.  If it flakes easily, it’s done. 
  5. Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 can of guava nectar in a small saucepan over high heat.  Boil to reduce the liquid to about 2 tablespoons. 
  6. Remove the fillet from the bag and divide into two servings, discarding the rosemary.  Pour the reduced guava glaze over each fillet and serve.

This turned out to be a super easy and excellent dinner.  The saltiness and slight kick of the chile verde was an excellent compliment to the sweetness of the guava.  My original intent was to bruleé the guava glaze for a crispy exterior, but alas my torch was nowhere to be found.  If you’re feeling adventurous, won’t you light this dish on fire and tell me how it turns out?

Update: Jean-François at has an excellent table of cooking times and temperatures for fish, along with other great sous-vide tips.  I’ve adjusted this recipe accordingly, since I didn’t have my stopwatch out the first time through.  Thanks, Jean-François!

Lemongrass-Mint Poached Halibut

poached halibut Halibut is the tofu of fish, but in a good way.  You can fry it, grill it, bake it, poach it or roast it, and it will absorb flavors like a sponge (figuratively – I’ve never cooked with sponges).  This dish is nouveau Mexican, my favorite kind of Mexican, but is adaptable to whatever flavors you have in mind.  The jicama taquito with braised leek and avocado filling adds a cooling crunch to this great summer dish.

Makes: 4 open-faced tacos
Total kitchen time: 1 hour

Shopping List:

  • 2 lbs. halibut fillet, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 jicama root
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 leek
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Fill a large skillet with hot water, about 1″ deep.  Add the chopped mint leaves and lemongrass and bring to a boil.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, proceed with the following steps.
  2. Peel the jicama root and slice it in half through the middle (the equator).  Using a mandoline (or a very sharp knife and steady hands), slice the jicama into discs less than 1 mm thick.  Chances are that you’ll have some mistakes lying around – it is actually kind of difficult to shave jicama into discs this thin.  Finely dice about 2 tbsp. of your mistakes and save them for the next step.
  3. Scoop out the avocados into a medium bowl.  Add the finely diced jicama mistakes, garlic, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside the avocado filling and jicama discs.
  4. Cut off the bottom and top end of the leek.  Then, cut the leek lengthwise down the middle.  With the flat (cut) side of the leek on your chopping board, run your knife from top to bottom making very small strips.  Set aside.
  5. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the leek strips and cook gently until the leeks have softened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Now would be a good time to start poaching the fish.  Cut the fillet into 4 equal portions and gently set them in the boiling lemongrass-mint water.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Poach, turning once, for a total of about 10 minutes.
  7. Next, fry the tortillas.  Heat a medium saucepan over high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the pan about 1/2″ deep.  Bring the oil to 350°F and add the corn tortillas, one at a time.  Fry the tortillas about 30 seconds on each side.  Immediately drain each tortilla on a stack of paper towels.  Dust one side lightly with cinnamon and paprika.  Set aside.
  8. Spoon a bout 1 tbsp. of avocado filling onto each jicama disc, then top with strips of braised leek.  Roll the jicama into a log shape and set aside.
  9. Drain each piece of fish and plate atop the fried tortilla.  Add the jicama taquito and sprinkle finishing salt (I used red Hawaiian salt, though regular sea salt will work) over everything. 

Admittedly, this dish is a little bit of work, but the result is beautiful and delicious.  You could easily turn this into a summer salad by using tostada shells instead of corn tortillas, and adding in some Pico de Canario.