Whether celebrating the onset of halibut season or making the most of freezer options, this recipe for sheet pan seafood kebabs is deceptive in its simplicity while offering an explosion of texture and flavor.
The key to crisping the fish is to remove as much moisture as possible before seasoning and then making sure to spread it out on the sheet pan so it crisps up instead of steaming. From there, the fish gets coated with spices and semolina, a coarsely ground durum wheat, which creates a lovely golden crust. If you’re worried about buying a bag of the flour and only using a bit of it, semolina is also great for making homemade pasta, pizza dough and even desserts. And you can always substitute with cornstarch or rice flour; the addition of some flour/cornstarch creates just the right amount of craggy bits and an almost batter-like texture. Roasting at high heat results in tender fish with lacy edges.
As to the spices, I love the sweet heat of paprika or Aleppo pepper. Admittedly, I keep some of my lesser-used spices a bit too long, and they become bitter or rancid. Because they take a starring role in this recipe, seek out a fresh batch of spices from your local supermarket or favorite spice vendor, and store larger quantities in the freezer, if space allows. Make this recipe your own by adding your favorite spicy pastes or sauce, such as harissa, Korean gochujang, or chili-crunch; I’m currently addicted to the Sichuan chili crisp from Fly by Jing and Momofuku’s chili crunch.
Serve over rice bowls or on a bed of pasta tossed with asparagus or peas. Pile onto bread with pickles and tartar sauce for a sandwich. Serve on cabbage leaves or in a tortilla for fish tacos. For a dipping sauce, you could serve everything from pesto to Romesco or make a simple horseradish cucumber sauce that cools down the palate with bits of chopped grape and fresh herbs.
Sheet pan seafood kebabs
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (about 1/2 pound)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 pounds fresh cod, halibut, salmon, scallops (or a combo)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as chili crisp, harissa, gochujang or Sriracha
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic (about 4 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika or ground Aleppo pepper or gochugaru
2 zucchini or 1 pint crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons fine semolina flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill (or cornstarch, rice flour, or potato starch)
For the horseradish cucumber sauce: Combine in a medium bowl: 3/4 cup plain yogurt or half-mayo, half-yogurt, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 minced green onions, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 to 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, and about 1/2 cup grated cucumber and about 1/2 cup chopped green or red seedless grapes. Garnish with chopped pistachios or fresh herbs, if desired.
Serving suggestions: cooked buckwheat noodles; orzo, steamed rice; pickled vegetables; thinly sliced cabbage; roasted seaweed; kimchi or sauerkraut.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper or coat bottom evenly with about two tablespoons olive oil. Alternatively, use a similar-sized cast-iron skillet or shallow baking dish. Trim asparagus (and any other veg you’d like to roast first, like onion, mushroom, cabbage, etc.) and add to sheet pan; turn to coat with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in oven 10 minutes, while you prepare zucchini and seafood.
Remove and discard any pin bones from fish; cut into (1 1/2-inch) cubes. Use paper towels or a kitchen towel and thoroughly pat dry seafood. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce/paste, ginger, garlic, paprika, and hot sauce. Add fish to soy sauce mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil; gently turn to coat all sides, being careful not to break the pieces. Sprinkle two teaspoons semolina flour (or cornstarch) over and mix well to coat fish all over. Add remaining teaspoon semolina (or cornstarch) and toss just to incorporate. Note: If you happen to add more sauce/liquid, add up to one more teaspoon of cornstarch to absorb most of the liquid. Using a vegetable peeler, peel long thin slices of zucchini and fold into thirds before skewering. Gently skewer fish, alternating with zucchini or other preferred vegetable such as mushrooms or pieces of onion or bell peppers.
Remove asparagus after 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 425 degrees. Add fish and veg skewers to sheet pan and arrange skewers/pieces so they are not touching. Roast, turning fish once or twice to ensure even cooking, for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on size of fish pieces. Be careful not to overcook fish; begin checking after 7 minutes; fish should just start to flake. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or with horseradish-cucumber sauce.