Olive Oil-Poached Halibut With Homemade Piperade And Soffrito! My “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge Heads To Bouchon Napa Valley!

One Of My Most Beautiful “52 In 22” Dishes Yet!

This week of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge was one of my highlights of the year!

I am so happy with the look of this dish, and when you see the unique flavors involved, it should make you want to cook it right away!

Week #36 of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge heads to Napa Valley, the greatest wine growing region in the US, and home to Chef Thomas Keller’s legendary restaurant “The French Laundry”, as well as his classic French bistro Bouchon.

Let’s cook one of his terrific dishes now!

Fresh Piperade And Soffrito Oh My!

Before we cook the main dish, let’s whip up fresh piperade and soffrito as well!

As the cookbook says, piperade is simply a combination of roasted sweet bell peppers and when combined with deeply cooked onions, becomes a “Soffritto”.

Let’s make the “Soffrito” first:

3 cups diced onions

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1 pound plum tomatoes


Combine the onion, oil and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and put over medium heat…once the onions begin to cook, lower the heat and cook the onions for 2-1/2 hours until a rich golden brown.

That last instruction brought me to an existential crisis…I’ll explain:

OK, I managed to let them cook for another hour and they got even more color!

After that extended cooking process, add the tomato pulp to the onions and cook another 2 hours, it will look like this:

Trust me, it smells great!

After that amount of simmering time, add more salt and the minced garlic – you’ve made a “Soffrito!”

Next Up, Homemade “Piperade!”

A “piperade” is a combination of roasted sweet bell peppers and the “soffrito.” So let’s roast the peppers!

The ingredients for Piperade:

1 pound yellow bell peppers

1 pound red bell peppers

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


1 cup piquillo peppers

red pepper flakes to tsaste

red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Halve the peppers through the core and discard the seeds…place the peppers cut side down on the baking sheet and drizzle with oil and salt.

Bake in the oven until the skin is blistered and browned, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, put in a large bowl, and cover with cling wrap to allow them to steam.

When the roasted bell peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and then slice into 1/4-inch by 2 inch slices.

Now, add all of your peppers in a sauce pan, add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for ten minutes.

It is delicious, and the best thing? You can use the rest for these two delicious dishes for up to a week when refrigerated!

Now, time to poach the fish and compile our dish!

Here are your ingredients for the olive oil poached Halibut:

6 oz. pieces of Halibut

3 to 4 cups of extra virgin olive oil

4 thyme springs

1 head of garlic

1/2 cup chicken stock


salt and pepper

Make sure your fish is dry.

Place the Halibut in a sauce pan that just holds them, and add your olive oil, making sure they are covered.

Now, remove the fish and put on a plate to save the oil on them, because you want to warm up the oil until it hits 140 degrees, then add the thyme and garlic – pull it from the heat and let it infuse for a half hour.

Now, add the fish back to the oil, heat it until its between 115 and 125 degrees, and it will each in the oil in 15-20 minutes!

Time to plate!

Alex filmed me plating the dish and yes, I forgot the name for soffrito!

Note that I didn’t combine the peppers and soffrito, and honestly, I like the differentiation of flavors!

I think this is one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve attempted so far…this dish just can’t take a bad picture!

More importantly, the fish was delicious moist, and the sharp bite of the soffrito and the piperade gave it a tangy goodness!

Of course, I cooked from Chef Thomas Keller’s cookbooks before:

I cooked Chef Keller’s “Sous Vide Lobster With Bone Marrow” and it was amazing – but it took 3 days to make it!

Click here for the recipe and the wild cooking method:

I have tried to take on difficult recipes, and have been rewarded for the effort:

This is the “Duck Cabbage Pancetta Mustard” Pie, thanks to the brilliant Chef Calum Franklin!

Click here to see how it looked inside!

Here’s another timeless recipe – and I was also very happy with how my “Veal Prince Orloff” dish turned out:

This dish evoked food from the era of “Downton Abbey” and you can make it as well…click here for the recipe:

This year has been a fun challenge, with some dishes very easy to make, and a few that were not as easy as they should have been!

This seemingly easy Paella took two tries to get it right – click here for both recipes and why I learned a valuable lesson about Chorizo!

If you go to my main page, you can sign up and every week another recipe will show up on your doorstep!

Click here to go to that main page and enter your email for a daily drop of fun stuff!


I cover food, travel, pop culture, movies music and more – but I also have a website dedicated just to food!

My food blog has all of my “52 In 22” cooking challenges, plus so much more!

Click here to see all of the fun food from around the world I share!


If you like the story, share it with friends on social media! Thanks!

Categories: cookbooks, Food, food blog, Food Review, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Adventures, Wacky Food

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17 replies

  1. Great job, John. You have a fun series going on and your enthusiasm comes through in the videos. Congratulations!


  2. This looks absolutely delicious! Now I know what ‘soffrito’ is. Thanks, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks soooo good, John. I am attempting bouillabaisse this weekend, but it won’t have mussels as I can’t find any to order locally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well presented dish. Are you guys managing to stay cool? I know you don’t live there, but it’s supposed to be 104 in Napa tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You need to open your own restaurant and offer cooking classes!


  6. This dish is well-plated! I am sure it is delicious as well. It did seem to be very time consuming. But good things take time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. John your skills have gotten mad crazy! Love your kitchen, by the way…wonderful design, seems like it was made for a cooking show …:)

    Liked by 2 people

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