Wild Pacific Halibut with Spring Peas and Spinach-Pea Purée


By: Ned Bell
Adapted from the recipe created by Executive Chef Ned Bell as featured in the Chefs for Oceans cookbook Lure, Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast.

Chef’s Note: 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 purée 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.


Spinach-Pea Purée

  • 1 Tbsp - extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 - shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp - sea salt

  • 3 cups - fresh or frozen peas

  • 5 cups - spinach leaves

1/2 cup - whipping cream, plus extra for thinningHeat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the shallots and salt, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the peas, spinach, and cream, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a blender, purée until smooth, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup warm cream to thin out the purée (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)

  • 1/4 tsp - sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp - coarsely ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. 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 Wild Pacific Halibut

  • 4 - (4 to 5 oz) skinless Wild Pacific 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

  • sea salt, to sprinkle

Use paper towels to pat the fish dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. 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.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes; a golden crust will have formed on the flesh. Flip the fillets over, and add the butter, the thyme, and a squeeze of lemon over each fish. 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.

To assemble, spread the spinach-pea purée 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.

Serves 4

Recipe copyright ©2017 by Ned Bell. All rights reserved. Featured with permission.