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Halibut Filet with Mornay Sauce


I love fish in all its prepared versions but I must confess that angling has never been listed as one of my hobbies. In my life I have been fishing twice. The first time was in Yorkshire, a couple of miles out  at seea, off the rocky grandeur of Filey Brigg. We were fishing for mackerel and were pulling them in as fast as we could bait the lines.

It was all very exciting until we had to gut and clean them; this messy business was conducted while our small boat and my stomach was pitching and rolling in a slow and heavy sea. I have to admit that when they were placed, ready and grilled on the supper table that same evening, I had to decline.

A second, and more romantic fishing adventure was in Ecuador just off the Isla de Plata, where Francis Drake sank a Spanish ship, reputed to be loaded with silver (hence the name the Island of Silver) and which has yet to be recovered. My wife to be and I were on a friend’s 30 foot catamaran, when Ernesto, the only crew member, idly fishing in the stern, hooked something big. For two hours we - or should I say he - fought that beauty; all the complicated manoeuvring being accomplished without a motor by the captain. Following his fantastic seamanship and the crew’s brute strength, we hauled in a magnificent 150 lb swordfish. We were for letting it go but it meant a lot of money for the poor Ernesto. It was hauled up on a jib and we sadly had to watch its beautiful opalescent skin colour fade into grey as we slowly made for land and the local fish market at Bahia.

These two widely differing experiences were enough to put me off fishing as a hobby. But as I said, I still love fish and here is a simple and tasty baked halibut with Mornay sauce recipe which, served with baked potatoes, green beans or spinach, will impress even your most fastidious  of guests .

Halibut Filet with Mornay Sauce
Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds halibut fillets
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
• salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tablespoons fresh Parmesan cheese
• 2 to 3 teaspoons grainy mustard or Creole mustard, or to taste
• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

PREPARATION:
Lightly butter a baking dish large enough to hold halibut in one layer. Heat oven to 375°. Arrange halibut in the dish, brush with the 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake the halibut fillets for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add green onion and cook for 1 minute. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring Constantly, until slightly thickened. In a small bowl or cup, whisk the egg yolk; stir in a few tablespoons of the hot mixture, blending well. Add the mixture back to the saucepan; stir in Parmesan cheese and continue cooking until smooth. Taste and add mustard, salt, and pepper, as desired.
 

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