Saturday, March 27, 2010

Steamed Pacific Halibut with Sautéed Early Spring Vegetables

The hours, minutes, days are flying by.  I cook, I take photos - do I have time to post them?  Seems not.
Spring can be like that.  So much work to do outside: the garden to ready for planting; mowing, clipping, weeding, and generally cleaning up after that messy person Winter who leaves her clothes strewn everywhere.

In this season that's not quite full-blown spring yet not really winter anymore, take advantage of the early spring produce that abounds:  green garlic, spring onions, leeks, baby bok choy, savoy cabbage, fennel, carrots, Hawaiian ginger, and that citrus-y wonder, blood orange.  Pair these with wild-caught Pacific halibut for an easy recipe that will get dinner on the table quickly so you can get back outside and work awhile longer before the sun sets.

I received inspiration for this recipe from my bestest-friend-in-the-world, Erika.  She treated me to a delicious dinner when I visited with her last week of mahi-mahi over leeks, kale, chard, and early onions from her Sacramento Valley garden, plus freshly grated ginger - lots of it.  It was fabulous.

I'm showing you a few photos from that dinner because the evening sunlight coming through Erika's west windows played over our plates of steaming vegetables and fish, enhancing an already beautiful setting, and I just had to share.

And while I didn't have the exact ingredients that Erika used, our local Co-op had some pretty wonderful substitutes.

Begin by slicing all your vegetables fairly thinly, the bok chot being the exception - it should be cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Start your sauté with the onions, garlic, leeks and carrots, then add the rest per instructions below.  Use plenty of freshly grated ginger at the end.

Steamed Pacific Halibut with Early Spring Sautéed Vegetables (Spring Onions, Leeks, Green Garlic, Baby Bok Choy, Savoy Cabbage, Fennel, Fresh Ginger and Blood Orange Juice)
Recipe inspired by my dear friend Erika
(print recipe)
3/4-pound fresh Pacific halibut fillet, rinsed and patted dry
1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced crosswise, white and light green parts only
1/2 of a large fennel bulb, cut lengthwise into thirds, thinly sliced crosswise
1 stem green garlic, thinly sliced
1 stem spring onion, thinly sliced
2 baby bok choy, stem end removed, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium head savoy cabbage, core removed, cut in half then in thirds lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
juice from 1 large blood orange
olive oil for the pan
sea salt to taste plus generous grindings of peppercorn medley
Using a large skillet (I almost always use cast iron), heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high.  When the pan is hot, turn the heat down to medium or even medium-low to prevent scorching and add the leeks, onion, garlic, and carrot and sauté until they begin to soften and cook down, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat so they do not burn.
Add the fennel and bok choy next and repeat the sautéeing process, tossing the vegetables with tongs so everything cooks evenly, about 5 minutes more.
When the fennel and bok choy have softened, add the savoy cabbage and toss.  Drizzle on the blood orange juice, toss again, and allow to cook, tossing often, until the cabbage has cooked down slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle on the grated ginger and toss again.
Season the vegetables with a good sea salt, make an indentation in the center of the vegetables and lay the halibut in it.
Sprinkle the fish with sea salt and generous grindings of peppercorns, turn the heat to low if it is not already there, and cover the pan.  Cook gently until the fish flakes when pierced with a fork but is still juicy and springy to the touch, about 7 minutes for a 2-inch thick fillet.
To serve, cut the fish into portion-size pieces and serve on a bed of the vegetables.


Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Hello Christine!!!

    Brussels calling!! Your halibut dish with all of these yummie veggies & with ginger is another must try!! I so love halibut!! It is my favourite fish!!

    Iyt is also so versatile!!

    Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures too!
    Many greets from your friend, Sophie!

  2. That looks like a great meal, and a great place to eat it! I'm just getting my spring veggies to sprout, but my local market is full of them.

  3. Hi Sophie, How is life in Brussels? I'm so glad you like this recipe. Happy cooking!

    Thanks for stopping by, Eric. I love My Frist Garage and will visit it often.

  4. Oops! I meant My First Garage. Sorry.

  5. Looks and sounds delicious, Christine!

  6. Wow I love halibut but it's so expensive here

  7. Thank you Tovar. I was glad to find your thoughtful blog.

    Hi Anne, You can make this with any white fish fillet. I would use an oily one though.

  8. I totally understand what you mean about spring. I haven't posted in over a week, yet surely I've eaten! Halibut is one of my favorite fishes and your recipe looks terrific.


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