There was a restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts that served halibut with sherry cream sauce and I still crave it fifteen years later. They served a perfectly pan-seared filet of halibut perched on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with asparagus. The best part was the intensely-flavored sherry cream sauce. Fantastic paired with any fish or seafood; this sauce is incredibly tasty.
This is the kind of sauce that can be difficult to create at home because the secret is in the stock. In the restaurant, they had an ample supply of shrimp and lobster shells, along with celery tops, herbs and onion skins available. Boiled for an afternoon, the stock was then strained and reduced with sherry and lots of cream. The result was a heady jolt of fresh seafood flavor, along with the flavors of celery and herbs mingling with sweet sherry.
Home chefs usually don’t go to all that trouble. Who has the time? With a baby at home, I sure don’t!
With a little creativity, I managed to make a pretty close approximation of the dish with easy-to-find ingredients. It didn’t take me all day and everyone loved it. I substituted a slab of roasted cauliflower for the mashed potatoes. It’s a fun way to serve this vegetable, and a great substitute for buttery mashed potatoes.
Do you have a favorite restaurant dish you would love to make at home? Please share in the comments!
Halibut with sherry cream sauce recipe
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- ¼ cup finely chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup seafood stock or clam broth (or lobster base)
- ¼ cup sherry
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 6-ounce halibut fillets
- coarse Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Heat a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Melt the butter and add the shallots and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and sherry. Add the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook on low heat until the mixture is reduced, about 10 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and cook on low heat for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pat the halibut fillets dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Add olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the halibut and cook on medium high heat until brown on the bottom, about five minutes. Flip the fillets and add the butter to the pan. Cook 2 minutes longer, tilting the pan and spooning the butter over the top of the fillets. Transfer fillets to a plate.