Luxury on a Plate with Halibut from the Fish Society.
I love halibut – a firm, white fish that is seldom available in my local supermarket or even from the Farmers’ Market that I visit every Saturday. The largest flatfish in the world, halibut has a delicate sweet flavour, firm flaky meat and a minimum of bones. With just 111 calories per 100g and 1.6g of fat, halibut is great for those of us trying to watch our weight – though perhaps not paired, as I have in this recipe for halibut with champagne cream sauce and asparagus. It also contains high levels of selenium (great for those of us with a thyroid problem) and is a good source of B vitamins. Cooked with care, it tastes wonderful and has a firmer flakier texture than cod or haddock.
When The Fish Society asked me to pick some fish and make a recipe or two, I spotted the halibut fillet steaks on their website. In fact, they have eight different options if you are interested in cooking with halibut – the fillet steaks are the perfect choice in my view for a luxurious dinner for two, while options like a whole halibut would make a wonderful centrepiece for a celebratory meal or a rather grand dinner party. My first experience of ordering fish from The Fish Society, I love the range of options for each type of fish – it makes it easy to choose whether to be decadent or frugal. Well, I’m going for decadent with this recipe for halibut with champagne cream sauce and asparagus.
One of the best things about The Fish Society is that your order will arrive frozen and nicely portioned (depending on what you order). My order also included some rather rare black cod which will be next on the list for me to cook with. For now, though that is safely popped into the freezer waiting for a special occasion.
I’m totally sold on this particular recipe. The champagne cream sauce is a lovely light and frothy base for both the asparagus and for the halibut. I’ve made the sauce a few times now and experimented a bit with champagne, prosecco and leftover chardonnay (one of the grapes that goes into champagne). I’d suggest if you want to be a little frugal or don’t have any leftover champagne (well, honestly, who does?) that an unoaked chardonnay makes a good substitute that works rather better than prosecco. The frothy nature of the sauce is from whisking it with a hand blender just before serving, not from the bubbles in the wine! If asparagus isn’t in season I think this would work well with French beans too. And, I’ve served mine with Jersey Royals which are also in season.
Without further ado, here’s how to make my recipe for halibut with asparagus and champagne cream sauce
A simple, seasonal recipe for halibut with a luxurious cream sauce and seasonal green asparagus
- 2 fillets Halibut - each around 200g
- 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 125 ml Champagne
- 200 g Green Asparagus
- 1 sprig Fresh Tarragon
- 75 ml Double Cream
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1 Banana Shallot finely chopped
Heat half the butter in a small sauce pan and gently soften the chopped shallot until it is translucent.
Add the champagne and tarragon and bring to a gentle simmer.
Reduce the mixture by 50% - this will take 15 minutes or so
Meanwhile trim the asparagus, if necessary peeling the woody parts of the stems
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 5-7 minutes until tender then drain and keep warm
Dry the halibut fillets with kitchen paper, then season with salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet until just smoking. Add the halibut, skin side down and reduce the heat to medium
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the halibut is just opaque through and the skin is crispy and golden. Leave the fish in the pan. cover and put to one side while you finish the sauce
Remove the tarragon from the sauce and add the cream. Warm through gently.
Whisk with an electric stick blender till all the shallots are blended and the sauce is slightly foaming. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and whisk again.
Toss the drained asparagus in the remaining butter
Put a pool of sauce on each plate, then lay out the asparagus spears. Put the fish onto of the asparagus and garnish with cayenne pepper and a sprig of tarragon or a slice of lemon.
Serve with new potatoes
A delicious and luxurious fish dish which makes the best use of seasonal asparagus. Out of season, substitute French beans.
This is the kind of dish you’ll make over and over again. You could substitute the halibut for turbot, cod or hake and you can definitely make the cream sauce with white wine rather than champagne. If there are just two of you for dinner, I’d suggest that opening the champagne to cook is a great excuse to finish the bottle later. If, like me, you’ve always used the excuse that it’s hard to source this kind of fish, well, you no longer have an excuse. The Fish Society can supply you with everything from Halibut for this recipe to Scallops, Red Prawns or Black Cod. I’ve certainly bookmarked their website – it’s a fabulous resource to have online.
Looking for other fish recipes? There are plenty on London-Unattached, including this delicious cod with sorrel and lentils and an easy bouillabaisse recipe that you’ll end up making again and again. I’ve even got a low-calorie version of miso-glazed black cod – so I’ll be doing something different with the fish society black cod in my freezer right now.