Halibut Gravadlax at Hudson’s on First

One of the most talked about items at Culinaire was the Halibut Gravadlax from Hudson’s on First. As I took that first bite I knew I’d be coming back for round two. If you’ve not heard of gravadlax (or gravlax) before, think of lox with a kick. The main difference is, where lox is cured in salt, gravadlax has the added sweetness of sugar and spice; sometimes juniper berry, horseradish, or pepper but generally its dill, lots of dill. It’s also typically made with salmon but here it was halibut and what a lovely, refreshing bite it was; delicate, eye catching and layered with flavor. It was so good in fact; I decided to take a drive up to Duncan to meet chef/owner Dan Hudson, creator of this little gem, and his wife Andrea.

Originally from Leicestershire, England, Dan attributes his finely tuned skills to years of on-the-job experience and the good fortune of working with excellent head chefs. Andrea grew up in Mill Bay and met Dan eight years ago in England while they were both working at a 16th century coach house. She was serving, while completing her training in Hotel Management and he was cooking. They quickly realized their shared dream of owing their own business and set out to make it happen.

Hudson's on First Outer Facade

Hudson’s on First Outer Facade

It’s evident on walking in to their restaurant that the Hudson’s have created something special. Located close to downtown Duncan in a 106-year old fully restored heritage house, the space is intimate, elegant and comfortable. I sat with Chef Dan to discuss his halibut hit. “It’s really just simple, classic cooking.” He said. Though, I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with smarts, a talent for balancing flavors and an eye for presentation. Regardless, whatever it is he’s embarked on, this dish, served as a starter on the menu, is proving to be a keeper.

The idea came about after he had a whack of halibut leftover from a holiday event and not wanting to waste it, or freeze it he decided to cure it and make gravadlax. Having access to wild pacific halibut from his local wholesalers Cowichan Bay Seafood and Mad Dog Crabs is a bonus too, says Dan.

To make the gravadlax, he cold cures the fish for two days by packing it with salt, sugar, lemon zest and fresh dill. It’s finished off with a delicate lemon peel puree, fresh grated Vancouver Island wasabi, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of house made dill infused grape seed oil. The end taste is velvety, light and elegant. Lets just put it this way; Dan prepared me a full order (easily enough to share between three) and I ate it all. I couldn’t help myself.

I’m looking forward to see what new creations their summer menu will offer. For now though, Dan sees no reason why the halibut shouldn’t stay. Andrea suggests pairing it with a light bodied white wine such as the 2012 Alegro from Unsworth Vineyards; a crisp, floral blend of Pinos Gris and Pinot Noir.


163 First Street
Duncan, BC

Phone: 250-597-0066
Fax: 250-597-0593
Email: info@hudsonsonfirst.ca
Website: Hudson’s On First
Twitter: @HudsonsOnFirst
Facebook: HudsonsOnFirst


Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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