Plate Lab: Alba Osteria’s Halibut Agrodolce

(Renee Comet/For The Washington Post)
Deputy Food editor/Recipe editor

When it comes to fish, we should all aspire to a chef’s touch. Amy Brandwein of Alba Osteria knows that little things pay off big, such as giving halibut fillets a quick rest with oil and aromatics before treating them to a two-step cooking process.

The chef de cuisine positions the fish toward the edge of the pan instead of dead center, to avoid overcooking. She sears the fillets just until she sees a golden crust underneath before flipping them over and dispatching them, ever so briefly, to the restaurant’s wood-fired pizza oven.

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Brandwein has a way with sauces, as well. She gets more “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet) action by using large capote capers and golden raisins, and by reducing lemon peel to slivers rather than zest, so more citrus oils are in play. Juice from smoky lemon wedges evokes the outdoors.

Her dish is finished with pink, edible apple blossoms — a chef’s touch we can admire and opt out of.

Recipe: Halibut Agrodolche

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