The appearance of tender pale green stalks of asparagus in the supermarket is always one of the first signs of spring. Fresh halibut, available from March to November, starts to appear about the same time. Select Pacific halibut that comes from sustainable fisheries. Select a thick piece of halibut so it isn’t overcooked when it’s baked. This recipe is easily doubled- double the ingredients and bake two packets
Select crisp pale green asparagus with tight firm buds. It will be fresher of it is stored with the stalks in ice. Whether you prefer thin stalks or fatter stalks it is important that they are uniformly thick. To prepare--just snap off the bottoms of the stalks and rinse well. I usually peel the bottom of fatter stalks but this is just a personal choice.
Halibut and Asparagus in Parchment
Makes 2 servings
8 stalks asparagus
1 (8-12 ounce) halibut fillet, about 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon white wine or water
2 lemon wedges
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks and place them in a microwave safe dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and microwave on high 1 ½ to 2 minutes. By precooking the asparagus it will be cooked tender crisp when the fish is cooked.
Place a 15-inch square of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold in half. Place the halibut along the fold and cover with the asparagus. Sprinkle with the shallot, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Dot with the butter and add the wine. Seal the parchment by folding the edges together several times. It’s important that you get the packet sealed so that the fish can cook in the steam inside.
Bake 18 minutes or until the paper is puffed and browned. Remove the packet from the oven and open carefully, allowing the steam to escape. Check the center of the halibut to be sure it’s cooked through. If it isn’t place the packet back in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Divide in half and garnish with lemon wedges.