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Halibut Braised with Saffron, Fennel, Tomatoes and Mussels

This dish is inspired by the flavors of classic Bouillabaisse and presented by guest chef Jasper White. If the tomatoes are not very ripe and flavorful, substitute strips of canned plum tomatoes. Serve with White Rice or Crusty Italian Bread. You will need a high, straight sided sauteuse (sauté pan) or similar pan for this dish.



24 blue mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

4 each thick 5-6 ounce portions of halibut, skinless

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour (for dusting the Halibut)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, sliced thinly

1 leek, cut into thin slices, washed and drained well

1 large bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced (reserve fronds)

1/2 teaspoon saffron strings

2 medium tomatoes (ripe), peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup fish stock or chicken broth


Scrub and de-beard the mussels. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Season the halibut on all sides with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the side where the skin was (only) with flour – you will see more pronounced markings. This isn’t imperative but it makes the dish look nicer.

Heat the sauté pan with the olive oil over a medium high heat. Sear the halibut on the floured side until it attains a nice golden brown crust. Remove the fish from the pan and, keeping the pan over the heat, lower the heat to medium.

Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1 minute. Next add the leeks, fennel and saffron and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add a little more olive oil if needed.

Add the tomatoes, orange peel, wine and fish stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Place the halibut in the hot liquid with the seared side facing up. Arrange the mussels around the fish and bring back to a boil.

Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the mussels are open.

Remove the pan from the oven. Lift each piece of halibut out of the pan and place in the center of large soup/pasta plates (4). Arrange the mussels around the fish. Put the broth back on the heat and taste for seasoning. Spoon the hot broth and vegetables over the fish and garnish with the fennel fronds.
This recipe was created by Jasper White for show 2115 – Gourmet Fish.


  1. Walter's avatar


    Is the 50f correct?
  2. Aaron Hunter's avatar

    Aaron Hunter

    The recipe has been corrected to 350F.

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