Cured in the same way as salmon gravlax, this halibut is delicate in taste, with a faintly sweet, herbal flavor. Pacific halibut gets a green light from Seafood Watch for its well-managed fisheries in both California and Alaska. Find crème fraîche in the dairy cases of well-stocked grocery stores. Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes, plus 2 days to cure. Notes: Be sure to use a very sharp knife when slicing. Cured halibut keeps, chilled, for up to 2 weeks.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 skin-on halibut fillets (8 oz. each), center cut (1/2- to 3/4-in. thick)
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 slices square (5 in. by 5 in.) deli-style dense pumpernickel bread, such as Wedemeyer brand
1/2 cup crème fraîche
How to Make It
In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, dill, salt, sugar, and pepper. Trim fillets to the same size and thickness. Line an 8- by 8-in. baking dish with plastic wrap and lay one fillet, skin side down, on bottom. Cover with dill mixture and top with second fillet, skin side up. Cover fillets with plastic wrap (do not seal edges) and a plate just big enough to fit inside the baking dish. Top plate with a 2- to 4-lb. weight (such as a 6-pack of soda). Cure fish, chilled, 2 days, turning over and draining excess liquid after 1 day.
Remove fillets, scrape off dill, rinse well, and pat dry. Thinly slice halibut on a steep angle, leaving skin behind and creating wide slices.
Whisk together mustards and brown sugar and set aside.
Stack bread slices and cut into 4 equal squares. Top each square with a dollop of crème fraîche. Arrange 1 or 2 pieces halibut over the crème fraîche and top with several dots of mustard sauce and a sprig of dill.