Where I live in Northern California, spring means bright greens and sweet English peas are in season. And further up north in Alaska, it’s halibut season, from March 1st to November 15th!
I decided to celebrate these ingredients with a light, flavorful Alaskan Halibut with Pea Puree and Pesto over Focaccia. This recipe is easy to put together and can be prepared many different ways. Paired with a bright Dough Wines Chardonnay, it makes such a wonderful spring or early summer dish for light dinner or lunch.
A favorite among fish lovers around the world for its mild flavor and firm yet flaky texture, fresh Alaskan halibut is incredibly delicious. It should be noted that you can absolutely enjoy halibut year-round when you purchase it frozen from trustworthy sources.
For sourcing halibut, Alaska Glacier Seafoods is one of the most well-managed fisheries in our country! The 10,000 square foot waterfront processing plant has operated on the pristine waters of Auke Nu Cove in Alaska since 2005. As a wholesale supplier of fresh and frozen wild-caught Alaskan seafood, they are committed to producing high-quality, sustainably-managed seafood products.
FROZEN SEAFOOD TIP
Alaska Glacier Seafoods is a prime example of how frozen seafood can be truly delicious year-round when harvested sustainably in a way that is mindful of the environment. Flash freezing at the dockside facility halts the natural deterioration of the flesh, and locks in freshness as the seafood makes its way to your doorstep.
By controlling the thawing time, you are maintaining the quality and freshness until the moment you are ready to eat and enjoy your seafood. I always recommend placing seafood in the refrigerator to thaw until you are ready to cook it. Once thawed, the fish will keep in your refrigerator for up to seven days. Having unthawed seafood should not deter you from cooking your seafood, as fish fillets can be cooked when they are frozen too —just rinse under cold water to remove ice glaze, pat dry, brush with vegetable oil, and start cooking.
Kelp is a key superfood when it comes to ocean-friendly ingredients that sequester carbon and sustain our seas. You can incorporate it into your pesto with a kelp puree from your Sea Pantry. See my recipe for Basil Kelp Pesto here!
Makes 4 Servings
For the Focaccia
- Sheets of fresh focaccia
- Baby greens or arugula
For the Halibut:
- 4, 6-oz halibut fillets (1.5 lb total)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Pea Puree:
- 2 cups English peas, freshly shucked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium shallot
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
For the Basil Pesto
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for a smoother pesto
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, optional
To Prepare the Halibut:
- Use paper towels to pat the halibut fillets completely dry — this will ensure even browning.
- Season the fish on both sides with garlic powder, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the fish fillets in a single layer (you can do it in batches if all the fish won’t fit in a single layer). Sear, without moving, for 3-4 minutes, until the edges of the fish are opaque.
- Flip and cook for 2-4 minutes, until cooked through.
- Remove the fish from the pan and cover tightly with foil to keep warm.
To Prepare the Pea Puree:
- Add the vegetable stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Add the peas and shallots and boil until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Drain the peas and shallot into a bowl of ice water, reserving one cup of the liquid.
- Drain the peas and shallots once cool and add them to a blender with ¼ cup of the cooking liquid.
- Puree until smooth by adding more liquid until the puree is the consistency of a thick milkshake.
To Prepare the Basil Pesto:
- In a food processor or blender, combine the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and pulse until well chopped.
- Add the basil and arugula, and then pulse until combined.
- With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until combined.
- Add the parmesan cheese, if using, and pulse to briefly combine. For a smoother pesto, add more olive oil.
- Heat the focaccia.
- Brush with olive oil.
- Spread the focaccia with a layer of the pea puree.
- Add the greens and top with dollops of more pea puree.
- Break the fish into pieces and place over the greens.
- Cut the sheet of focaccia into pieces and serve with your favorite Chardonnay, like the one from Dough Wines!
Have leftover pesto? Try this recipe for Tinned Scallops and Pesto Pasta!