Halibut with Spring Peas and Spinach Pea Puree

Lure Seafood

Excerpted from Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast by Ned Bell with Valerie Howes.

Fresh peas taste just like spring—green, grassy, and sweet. Since their season is short, I try to make the most of it by cooking them up every which way. In this dish, they’re cooked into a silky puree and sautéed until just-tender. Then I use their delicate tendrils for a simple salad. It’s a springtime trio that would be delicious with any fish, but since halibut fishing begins right around the same time as pea season, I can’t resist bringing these two elements together on one plate.

Serves 4

Spinach-pea puree
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
3 cups fresh or frozen peas
5 cups spinach leaves
½ cup whipping cream, plus extra for thinning

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the shallots and salt, and sauté for 3 minutes.
2. Add the peas, spinach, and cream, and cook for 1 minute.
3. Transfer the mixture to a blender, puree until smooth, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
4. If necessary, add up to ½ cup warm cream to thin out the puree (I prefer it quite thick and rich).

Sautéed peas
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 cup shelled fresh spring peas (from about 1 lb of pods)
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add the peas, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for another minute until the peas are tender.

Pea shoots
4 cups pea shoots
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
In a bowl, toss the pea shoots with the oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pan-seared halibut
4 (4 to 5 oz) skinless halibut fillets
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 lemon, halved, with zest reserved for garnish
Flaked sea salt, to sprinkle

1. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.
3. Carefully lay the fish in the pan. (If necessary, cook the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding, which will keep the fish from caramelizing properly.)
4. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes; a golden crust will have formed on the flesh.
5. Reduce the heat to medium, flip the fillets over, and add the butter, the thyme, and a squeeze of lemon over each fish.
6. Cook, basting with the buttery juices, for another 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and almost opaque all the way through. Transfer the fish to a plate.
7. To assemble, spread the spinach-pea puree on each plate. Add the sautéed peas and place the halibut on top. Garnish with the dressed pea shoots, lemon zest, and coarse sea salt. Serve.

For more recipes from Ned Bell’s Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast, click here.


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