Cooking With Beer: Helles-Poached Halibut

Pale lager adds a soft, bready sweetness to a bright fish preparation and piquant, Mediterranean-inspired sauce.

Christopher Cina Mar 13, 2022 - 3 min read

Cooking With Beer: Helles-Poached Halibut Primary Image

Photo: Christopher Cina

Helles-Poached Halibut

Serves 2

1 tsp olive oil
¾ cup (177 ml) helles lager
½ lemon
Two 6–8 oz (170–227 g) pieces halibut fillet
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cup (473 ml) tomatoes, tops removed
2 Tbs garlic, minced
4 Tbs capers
¼ cup (59 ml) Kalamata olives, pitted
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ cup (118 ml) helles lager
2 Tbs butter, cold
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbs basil chiffonade

Brush the 1 tsp olive oil on the bottom of a medium sauté pan. Add ¾ cup (177 ml) lager; squeeze the lemon half and add to the pan. Season the halibut gently with salt and pepper. Place the sauté pan on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the halibut fillets in the pan and cover. Reduce the heat to low. Cook until desired doneness or an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C). Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest.

In a large sauté pan, heat the 2 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. When you begin to see wisps of smoke, gently add the tomatoes to the pan. Gently move the tomatoes around, allowing the skin to blister and darken, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the capers, olives, and crushed red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the helles lager and simmer for 2–3 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the cold butter. Season with salt to taste and gently fold in the basil.

Place the sauce in two deep plates or bowls. Top with the fish and serve.

Beer Tasting Notes: The helles lager adds a bready light sweetness and touch of extra body to the sauce, which contrasts with the light nature of the fish. An American light lager, Mexican-style lager, or pre-Prohibition pilsner would also be suitable in the dish, thanks to their lower hopping rates and the generally lower level of spicy and herbal hops. Avoid lagers with spicy hop character, strong bitterness, or heavier malt components, as those will overpower the gentler notes in the dish.

Beer Suggestions: Schönramer Hell (Petting, Germany), Dovetail Helles (Chicago, Illinois), Dutchess Ales Ketzer Helles (Wassaic, New York), Firestone Walker Premium Lager (Paso Robles, California), Augustiner Hell (Munich, Germany), Weihenstephaner Original (Freising, Germany).