Become ocean-wise about the fish you cook: Recipe for poached halibut with beet topping

Slivers of fresh beets and watercress leaves trim oil-poached halibut fillets.
WhitecapSlivers of fresh beets and watercress leaves trim oil-poached halibut fillets.

It’s been five years since the first Ocean Wise Cookbook appeared and the public has become more and more aware of concerns about endangering some favourite species of fish and seafood and how to enjoy the plentiful varieties. So a second book with more then 150 new recipes, called Ocean Wise Cookbook 2, is welcome from Vancouver writer-cook-photographer Jane Mundy (Whitecap, 2015). Her term “ocean friendly” is her description for her collection – sadly, none from Quebec.

Skills required range from beginner to experienced, with all recipes clearly written. She suggests serving this recipe for halibut, which could be made with lingcod, on gazpacho, potato salad and green beans. Colour is added with julienned strips of fresh beets and leaves of watercress. Mundy makes a herb crust for the fish, then sears it in oil before simmering it slowly in the oil. She endorses both wild and farmed fish, as long as the fish are farmed in “closed containment” systems and not in “open-net pens” which can pollute the waters. This book is informative and beautifully produced.


4 fresh halibut fillets, 6 oz (170 g) each, at least ¾-inch thick
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 fresh beets, in julienne slivers
½ cup watercress leaves

1. Let fish stand at room temperature for one hour. Add 2 cups oil to a pan large enough to submerge the fillets in the oil. Heat the oil to 90 degrees F.
2. Meanwhile, gently rub fish with the 1 tablespoon oil so the herbs will stick to it. Season fish with salt and pepper. Mix parsley and chives together and pat onto one side of fish.
3. Heat another pan large enough to hold all the fish fillets over medium-high heat and lightly oil it. Sear fish herb side down so herbs form a crust on the fish.
4. Using a spatula, transfer fish to the pan with the heated olive oil and poach over low heat for 25 minutes. Remove fish from pan, draining off oil on paper towels, and serve, topped with beets and watercress, on four heated plates.
serves 4