Halibut Season Opens in Victoria

Halibut season this year opened at noon on Saturday, March 24.  At Finest At Sea in James Bay that meant all of their big boats headed north to Haida Gwaii to bring back their catch for the city.

Fresh halibut stared to appear in stores last week and an open-to-the-public “Halibut BBQ Celebration” was held at their James Bay location on Saturday, March 31. To prepare for the festivities owner Bob Fraumeni and his two sons did a 2-day local trip to stock Victoria with fresh halibut ahead of everyone else. Bob has been fishing for 25+ years and instilling those sustainable practices in his sons.

At the Saturday event,  Il Covo Trattoria‘s chef Raphael Laouini joined the F.A.S crew and was on hand to fire up the barbecue and provide halibut samples and snacks. Demos were given showing how to break down a whole halibut.

Look for fresh halibut at the Finest at Sea store, Thrifty Foods seafood counters and at Oak Bay Seafood on Oak Bay Ave. Restaurants around the city will also be featuring fresh halibut on their menus.

Here’s a recipe from stylist and recipe developer Jennifer Danter for a delicious and spicy halibut curry that first appeared in our March/April 2018 issue. (Photo by Jacqueline Downey)

 

GOLDEN HALIBUT CURRY

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 large stalk lemongrass (trim top and discard outer leaves), chopped

5 garlic cloves, smashed

2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh turmeric

⅓ cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. cumin seeds

2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

3 Tbsp. palm sugar or honey

2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp garam masala

1-2 bird’s eye red chilies (not seeded), chopped*

1 tsp sea salt

4 kaffir lime leaves

2 400-mL cans coconut milk

2 16-oz halibut fillets

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp oil

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or basil

 

In a food processor, pulse together onion, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and turmeric until almost puréed.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot (be patient); add cumin seeds and sizzle for 1 min. Scrape in onion mixture; cook, stirring often, for 15 min. Stir continuously towards end of cooking to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, purée tomatoes with sugar, fish sauce, garam masala, chilies* and salt. Stir into onion mixture along with lime leaves. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 5 min., then add coconut milk. Bring to a boil; reduce and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, 5 to 8 min.

Meanwhile, season halibut with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat oil to medium-high; add fish skin-side up. Sear until golden, 3 to 4 min.; transfer to Dutch oven. Cover and simmer until fish is cooked through, 8 to 10 more min. Sprinkle with basil; serve with rice noodles and lime wedges.

Make Ahead Prep sauce only. Cool and refrigerate up to 5 days; this will allow flavours to blend. Rewarm sauce; sear fish, then simmer in sauce before serving.

* I find that fresh chilies sometimes don’t pack the heat I expect. Blend in one, then taste and add another if needed.

 Top That!

On a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, combine ½ cup each almonds, cashews, pistachios and pecans with ¼ cup each cranberries and sunflower seeds, 1 sliced Thai red chili, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds and 1 tsp each coriander seeds, mustard seeds and salt. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp oil; toss to evenly coat. Roast in preheated 350°F oven, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 20 minutes. Chop; sprinkle over curry.

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