Poisson à la Provençale


Halibut à la provençale

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

This French dish presents a delicious blend of fish, wine, tomatoes and herbs. The original recipe is made with either tuna or swordfish. However, I made it halibut. Some other suggestions are Green cod and ocean pollack. This recipe serves about 6 to 8 people (I made half).


  • 3 pounds of fish cut into ¾ inch- thick steaks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onions
  • 3 pounds fresh, ripe, red tomatoes peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped*
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup dry White wine
  • 1 to 2 tbsp tomato taste
  • 1 tbsp flour blended to a paste with 1 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley


  1. Remove the skin of the fish steaks. Blend the salt and lemon juice in a 9×14 Pyrex baking dish. Then beat in the oil and pepper. Arrange the ish in the dish and baste with the marinade. Cover with waxed paper and marinate for 1 ½ to 2 hours, turning and basting the fish several times.
  2. Drain the fish and dry it on paper towels. Discard the marinade.
  3. Sauté the fish in a skillet of very hot cooking oil for 1 to 2 minutes on each side to brown lightly. Return the fish in the baking dish.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  5. Cook the onions slowly in the skillet for about 5 minutes until they are tender but not browned. Stir in the tomato pulp, seasonings and herbs. Cover the skillet and cook slowly for 5 more minutes. Spread the tomato mixture over the fish.
  6. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Set it in the lower third of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Pour in the wine and bake for 30 more minutes, turning the oven down to 325F (163C) as soon as the fish starts simmering.
  8. Remove the fish to a serving platter and scrape the sauce off the fish. Keep the fish warm by returning it to the turned off oven.
  9. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and boil it down over high heat until reduced to about 2 cups. Stir in the tomato paste and simmer for a moment.
  10. Remove the sauce from the heat and beat in the flour and butter paste. Simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.
  11. Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve.

*To peel, seed and juice the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for exactly 10 seconds and remove. Cut the stem and remove the skin from this point. Then cut the tomatoes crosswise. Squeeze the tomatoes gently to remove the seeds and juice. You can scrape out any remaining seeds with a knife or your fingers. The tomatoes are now ready to be chopped.


Comments: This is yet another easy recipe though it takes a while mainly because of the marinating. The sauce does not taste too strongly of tomatoes. This fish goes well with potatoes, boiled or otherwise. Julia Child says it can be eaten hot or cold, but I recommend hot.

Poission à la Provençale


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