Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! I hope you find that you like the new format of this column now that it includes photographs of the prepared dishes. This month I decided to present a dish that I serve to my family regularly -- Fried Halibut. In addition, I have presented a recipe for a Basil and Tomato Salad that is very nutritious and delicious.

By the way, I have managed to learn a program that enables me to do some post processing on the pictures. As a result, the colors should now appear much better, even if my lighting is poor. Also, these new pictures were taken in my newly remodeled kitchen.

The recipes presented this month are from my yet to be published cookbook, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the good stuff!

Surf and Salad

Fried Halibut

To many people, frying is to be avoided as a cooking method. However, if done properly, frying is an excellent method of preparing fish of many types. Halibut, being a firm meat, is well suited to this cooking method. You will find that when halibut is prepared in this manner, the coating seals in the flavor and juices, making for a delightful meal.

First, a few words about the selection of halibut. Fresh is always best. If you happen to live near the coast, fresh halibut may be available during certain seasons. However, most of us don't live close enough to the coast to purchase or catch fresh halibut. If this is your case, look in the frozen food section of your grocery store for fresh frozen halibut steaks. I have found these to be of excellent quality. Frozen halibut steaks should be thawed in a sinkful of cold water for approximately 45 minutes before cooking. The plastic wrapping can be removed after the halibut has thawed.

  • 2 frozen halibut steaks
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 pats butter
  • Large skillet with peanut oil 1/4 inch deep

Thaw the halibut steaks, if frozen, in a sink of cold water for 45 minutes. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Leftover mix can be stored in a plastic bag for future use as well. When the fish has thawed, remove from the plastic wrapper, rinse and let drain for a few minutes. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium to high temperature.

Bread each of the halibut steaks in the dry mixture so that all sides are covered with a coating of the mixture. After the oil gets hot, carefully place each of the steaks into the oil. Avoid splashing the oil by using a spatula. Allow the steaks to fry for about 4 to 5 minutes using medium high temperature. This should be adequate to lightly brown the coating on the fish. Turn once and fry for an additional 4 minutes. After the steaks are fried, remove with a spatula and allow to drain for 1 minute on a paper towel.

Place the steaks on dinner plates and top with a pat of butter (optional). Garnish the steaks with chopped parsley and serve hot.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Basil and Tomato Salad

This is an elegant and delicious salad that can be served for either a regular dinner or an elegant meal. It is also suitable for a healthy lunch alternative. The contrast of red, green and white in this salad makes for an impressive presentation for that special occasion.
  • 2 large vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (other soft cheese may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
First, put the garlic into the olive oil and set aside for at least 1/2 hour, preferably longer. This allows the flavor of the garlic to penetrate the olive oil. The garlic may be used in the salad or strained out. Virgin olive oil is preferred for salads, as the flavor is more delicate than regular olive oil.

Rinse and pat dry the basil before using. Break the leaves from the stems and arrange them on a serving dish.

The tomatoes selected for this salad should be a vine ripened variety for best flavor. Cut the tomatoes into bite sized chunks and arrange on top of the bed of basil leaves.

Sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese on top. You may select any soft cheese for this salad. I used a Mexican soft cheese called Queso Fresco. Fresh mozzarella can also be used. You might even try cottage cheese of the low cal variety if you are concerned about fat intake.

Finally, sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top of the salad. Balsamic vinegar is preferred because of its unique properties and wonderful flavor. You will find that the sweetness of the basil and tomatoes contrast pleasantly with the slightly sour nature of the vinegar.

Serve promptly and enjoy!

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes