4 halibut fillets, about 5 1/2 ounces each
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 pound 2 ounces eggplants
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Sea salt (to season eggplant)
5 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (rice wine)
1 bunch of cilantro
1 tablespoon chili oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons fine sugar
1 2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and ground (optional)
3 shallots, peeled and minced
First, prepare the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch cubes. Place in a colander, salt well, and set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, separate the cilantro stems, saving a handful of the leaves. Pound the stems using a mortar and pestle. Pat the eggplant cubes dry with paper towels.
Place a wok over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and heat until almost smoking. Cook the eggplant cubes in small batches, until golden brown on all sides, then remove and drain on paper towels.
Pour off excess oil from the wok, then add the ginger, shallots, garlic, and pounded cilantro stems.
Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the soy sauces, vinegar, wine, chili oil, and sugar. Let bubble vigorously for a minute or so.
Return the eggplant to the wok, turn down the heat a little, and cook for another 2 minutes, tossing and turning the eggplant so it absorbs the sweet, sour flavours.
Roughly tear the cilantro leaves and toss them through the eggplant with the ground Sichuan pepper.
To cook the halibut, start by preheating the oven to 375°F. (Convection oven, 350°F.)
Season the fish generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof pan that will hold the fish without overcrowding (use two pans if necessary).
Add the olive oil and when it is just starting to smoke, lay the halibut, skin side down, in the pan.
Cook for 2 minutes without moving or turning, then place the pan in the oven (still without turning the fish) and cook until the skin is gloriously brown and crunchy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Place a spoonful or two of the pickled eggplants on each warm plate. Carefully turn the fish and lay it skin side up alongside. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.