I saw a live show this past weekend.
It’s the first thing I’ve done, really done, since before this Pandemic. It was a bizarre experience – just being around people. Seeing my community. So much was the same, but I felt so different. I am so different. And maybe we all are and we all wear it in our own way. I don’t know. But I felt a little like a trash panda that brushed it’s hair and put on lip gloss. I felt a little like a vampire, confused and blinded by the happiness and sunshine surrounding me. I felt a little like crying and asking everyone I ran into to hold me.
But then this performance, by some of the most talented black women I’ve ever seen, in the sunshine of my hometown that I love despite it’s long list of problems, surrounded by people I’d known for so long – I’d grown up in the sight of these people – this performance grabbed me and loved me and saw me and challenged me and led me and, I don’t know. For this brief moment – even after….everything….I felt normal.
I realized, I don’t know how long any of these feelings I have will last. I might be changed forever. Or I might look back from a removed and different place a year from now. Or five months. Or six hours. I don’t know.
But what I know is that my community is out there. They are right there and they went through this at the same time I did and they cried out about the same things I did and they…they love me.
And that’s hard for me to type. That’s really hard. I’m fighting every inner voice telling me to delete that self absorbed sentence.
But I won’t do it. I won’t do it because you need to know the same thing.
You need to know that your community is out there and they love you.
They are there. I promise. And maybe they aren’t the same. And maybe you aren’t the same. But that’s okay.
Maybe you’ve never even found them yet. But you can and you will. I believe it with my whole damn heart.
I guess I got a little sliver of my belief in good back.
Good is still there.
And I hope, I hope forever and for always I hope, you find it.
It was there for me. When I gave up on it.
And it washed me cleaned.
And it made me think about a lot of times in my life when I felt at peace.
And then I remembered the halibut.
So I went and bought some.
Because it’s my favorite fucking fish and I love it so much and Halibut in a Red Pepper sauce was the first grown up fancy time dish I ever ordered when I was twelve in a restaurant on top of the doubletree downtown for my parent’s anniversary.
And because I think all the time about what compelled me to order halibut that night. How did I make that choice?
And I remember the first bite and how it flushed my cheeks and warmed by brain and made me so sure – I made the right choice.
And then I think about all the apprehension and misleading information and hard opinions and deep shaming and judgement that’s surrounded so much of this stupid year and a half. When I did everything right. I did it all right. I think. I think? I did it all. I did nothing.
And I’m proud of it.
And I hate it.
I choose to be the girl who ordered that halibut.
Instead of the girl who couldn’t decide when it was time to go back outside. The girl who still doesn’t know.
Really? I guess I’m both.
Baked Halibut with a Roasted Red Pepper Pan Sauce
- 2 halibut fillets, about 1-1.5 pounds total, depending on the cuts
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 jar fire roasted red peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 T unsalted butter
- A large splash of dry white wine (I’d say probably around 1/4 C if you need exacts) (*You could sub chicken stock if you want to skip the booze)
- 3/4 C heavy cream
- 1/2 C freshly grated parmesan (It melts into this sauce better, that’s why)
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Pastry Brush (Or some sort of brushing instrument)
- Large skillet
- Various measuring spoons & cups
- Chef’s Knife
- Cutting Board
- Stirrin’ spoon
- Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and set aside.
- Mince your garlic, then press the minced garlic with the flat side of your knife a few times to really smush the stuff.
- Pull out your rep peppers and cut into strips, then cubes. And FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T THROW AWAY THE LIQUID. It’s really really good splashed in a Bloody Mary. See my Firewood Bloody Mary for proof.
- Pat your halibut fillets with paper towels and set, skin side down, on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly, using the pastry brush or similar instrument, with olive oil. Season generously with kosher salt & freshly cracked pepper. Place in the oven and cook for about 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cuts. The fish should flake easily and be an internal temperature of about 130 to 135 F.
- Meanwhile, heat your skillet over medium high heat, toss in your butter and a swirl of olive oil (The olive oil helps prevent the butter from reaching a burning point for a longer period of time)
- Once the butter is melted, toss in your garlic and cook about a minute or less until, without bending over or wafting, you can smell the garlic, but before it starts to get any color.
- Toss in your red peppers, stir and let cook about 2-3 minutes. Add your wine and let cook for another few minutes until most of the liquid is gone. Take off the heat. Season with salt & pepper.
- Pour the contents into your blend and blend for a good 1-2 minutes straight at a medium speed until really smooth. Pour the blended mix back into your skillet and put back over medium low heat. Add your heavy cream and parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate. Allow the sauce to continue bubbling at a low temperature, occasionally stirring, while the fish finishes in the oven.
- In the last minute or so of cooking, I usually switch to the broiler to really hit the seasoned top of the fish with some heat and give it a little bit of color.
- Plate yoru fish fillets top with your preferred amount of red pepper sauce and cry with joy. You’re welcome.