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Halibut with Herbs and Flowers

Halibut with Herbs and Flowers

Sustainable Seafood Recipe

"What I like about this recipe," says Chef Jesse Cool, “is that it’s simple. But as I emphasize in my books, a recipe isn’t simple because you cut ingredients—it’s simple because it has good, uncomplicated ingredients that go together. A little saffron, the sweetness of peas, the fresh greens, and the brightness of the herbs bring out the natural flavors of the fish, rather than masking it with a heavy sauce.”

Most Pacific halibut is caught either in Alaska or off the west coast of Canada. In Alaska, fishing for Pacific halibut is strictly limited to the bottom longlining method, which causes little habitat damage or bycatch and makes it a "Best Choice."

  • (Serves 4)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped organically grown edible flower petals, such as calendula, nasturtiums, roses, or onion or chive blossoms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 halibut fillet (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken, vegetable, or fish broth
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

In a shallow bowl, combine the parsley, flower petals, chives, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Place the halibut in the flower and herb mixture, pressing the fish to thoroughly coat both sides. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halibut and cook for 4 minutes on one side. Turn over the halibut and pour in the broth. Add the saffron and garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the halibut is just opaque and the broth is reduced by half. During the last minute or so, add the peas.

Remove the pan from the heat. Place 1 fish fillet in each of 4 shallow soup bowls. Divide the broth and peas evenly among the bowls.

Recipe from Simply Organic: A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonal and Local Ingredients, by Jesse Ziff Cool. Reprinted by permission of Chronicle Books, copyright 2000 and 2008. All rights reserved.

Hints from the Chef

  • This recipe would work well with any fleshy, white piece of sustainable seafood, or even salmon or black cod.
  • Edible blossoms change seasonally, so use what's available. If none are available, you can increase the herbs and black pepper as substitutes for the flowers' spiciness.
  • Instead of peas, you can also use English beans, green beans, broccoli, sugar peas or snap peas. Use whatever is fresh and in season.
  • When sautéing seafood it's important to turn up the heat to sear the fish and keep the moisture in.

Jesse Ziff Cool
Jesse Ziff Cool, Owner, Flea Street Café, Menlo Park; The Cool Café at Stanford University Cantor Art Center, Palo Alto; and the Cool Café, Menlo Park

Best Choice Alaska Halibut

Alaska Halibut

The Alaska halibut fishery is strictly limited to the bottom longlining method, which causes little habitat damage or bycatch.
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