wild seasonal halibut and fresh steamed artichokes

20 Apr

preface : this is one wordy/lengthy post!!! 🙂

i really love to eat in season, as often as possible.  apparently, it is halibut season.  i will admit that i miss living on the east coast simply for the amazing seafood selection.  as someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat, fish has always been a great source of protein for me and besides all that, i just love it – anything from the ocean, really!

i miss getting sea scallops from my former store so tender and fresh you could practically eat them raw.  the mussels were sold by the bag, not the pound, and the halibut did NOT cost me $25 a filet :-/

however, this was seriously THE BEST halibut i’ve ever had.  one of the best pieces of fish i’ve ever had, in fact.  it’s expensive, yes.  less expensive when in season – but i’m still landlocked here in colorado, so fish prices are unfortunately high.  now, you can go buy frozen fish and pay less, but here’s the thing with me… (i feel a rant coming on)

i’m about quality.  it’s easy to eat well and not pay a fortune – especially when you watch for sales, buy in season, and shop a little more frequently in order to ensure freshness.  if i want a good steak, i’ll go out and get one.  i can’t cook it at home!  i’ll pay for it, sure… but i don’t eat steak enough to care if i’m saving a penny or two.  maybe twice a year i’ll go out for a nice dinner. for one, i’m a snob and would want to pick my cut and know it’s grass-fed local beef before they threw it on any kind of grill.  and also, it can be expensive – sure!  the point is – in the true spirit of this blog and in trying to continue on the path of how we look at our food – if occasionally you drop $30 bucks on a meal you cook at home for you and your partner, who cares?!  for the most part, my dishes cost less than $10 to feed 2-3 people.  and it’s healthy, local, natural, and simple. when a fish like halibut is in season, that’s when you want to eat it.  for one, it is better for our entire ecosystem believe it or not, and it’s more available, so cost is lower.  frozen fish just sucks – i’ll say it. i mean, not all the time.  i did make this amazing salmon once that was flash frozen immediately… but i guess i’m just saying that if you’re going to go for it, go for it.  buy a fresh filet of fish instead of opting for the lower-cost previously frozen one.  you’re getting more nutrients and let me tell you, it’s going to taste better.  at least 3 people in my life that i’ve cooked for {including my roommate} have said to me, “i don’t even like fish, but i like the way you prepare it.” well, for one thing – i only buy fresh fish and it’s usually in season.  occasionally if i catch a crazy deal like in the case of that frozen salmon, i’ll buy it for reserve… but trust me on this – buy local, in season, sustainably caught fresh fish whenever possible.

i could write a whole lot more on why it’s important to buy sustainably caught fish – and i just might.  but for now, we’ll leave it at that.

thanks for reading – now on to the recipe…

oh, and i might add that artichokes are in season as well.  listen, when you buy in season – it just tastes better!  think about what you’re good at – what is your passion?  do you make amazing jewelry or write music?  i’m sure there is some element you are in that brings out that inspiration, that makes you at your best.  well, food is the same way.  different plants thrive in different environments, ya dig?  i bought some long-stem artichokes on sale for $2 a pop to add to my seasonal halibut.  furthermore, the ramps that are featured in my cous cous are also seasonal. apparently ramps are only around for about 3-4 weeks and they are also not cheap.  but sometimes you have to treat yourself.  i figured this was my “welcome spring” celebration meal 🙂

ingredients :

– halibut filet {at least 3 ounces per person – this filet was about 3/4 pound}

– 2 artichokes

– 1 bunch swiss chard

– 1 cup whole wheat cous cous

– 3 small ramps {AKA baby leeks}

– 1 meyer lemon {they are sweeter and just plain better}

– S & P

to begin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  i prefer to bake my fish – it’s easy clean up and cooks thoroughly. i baked the halibut especially because it is a nice, dense and flaky fish.

two things here :

1. when picking out your fish, look for the “belly” or middle filet cuts. that is the best part of the fish. ask the team member if you are not sure. also, have them leave the skin on.  we want to keep our food as “whole” as possible.  after you cook the fish, it flakes right off from the skin.

2.  do not cut the fish until you serve it. cooking it whole keeps the integrity of the fish and ensures it will maintain it’s lovely flaky texture.  in this case, i’m going to cut it down the middle, where that line is.

place the fish in tinfoil for easy clean up.  squeeze half a meyer lemon over the entire fish, then sprinkle on some S & P and loosely wrap the tinfoil around the filet.  keep a little room on the sides to allow air to flow in and out.  wait for the oven to preheat – it’s okay if the fish sits out for a bit.

next, get a large pot and fill with about 2-3 inches of water.  if you have a steamer {kinda like this one} use it :

also, these silicone ones are nice, but mine didn’t fit in the bottom as well as the metal did…

some artichokes have those pokey little ends that *will* get ya!  the long stem artichokes i bought didn’t look like that.  but in the event yours do, you can trim those ends off before cooking.  {such a process!  but they are so yummy!}

put your artichokes in the large pot of boiling water in your steamer basket and cover.  these will steam for at least 30-45 minutes.

**here we go again with my timing. it’s hard to explain in this blog how i cook – i’m so dominated by my virgo tendencies of planning and time-management that it is just natural for me.  but basically, i just know the artichokes will take the longest to cook, so i would prepare them first. the fish should only cook about 20-30 minutes so i would get the artichokes going first then about 20 minutes in, pop the fish in the oven.

the other two sides i opted for was my go-to cous cous {great, easy to make whole grain}, and lightly sauteed swiss chard. i didn’t photograph how to make these because it got a little complicated in the kitchen this time, i will admit 🙂  i had also gone shopping and didn’t yet organize things, so it was kind of a mess.

easy peasy.

for the cous cous : ratio of 1:2

trim the root from the bulbs of the ramps and chop them up – leaves included.  in fact, tear off a little piece and eat that yummy thing!  wow – holy flavour!!!!!  saute the ramps in a small pot {skillet isn’t necessary} with a tablespoon of olive oil until crisp. remove from heat and in the same pot, add 2 cups water and a little S & P and bring to a boil.  add in cous cous and bring to a boil again. remove from heat and cover, fluffing occasionally to maintain texture.

for the swiss chard : chop into 1-2 inch pieces, removing from stalk.  {it’s simply too bitter and fibrous} heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter and 1/4 cup water and toss in swiss chard.  i grated a smidgen of nutmeg into mine as well.  keep on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally and then remove from heat once wilted down.

after your artichokes are steamed fully {once stalk is almost mushy and leaves pull off easily} remove from heat and uncover.  check on your fish – once it is opaque and has a nice white flaky flesh that separates with a fork, it is cooked.  i would say this filet was in the oven for 25 minutes. you could temp it – fish should be cooked to 145 degrees. i was almost afraid i had overcooked it, but it was perfect.  that’s the nice thing about a dense fish – a little harder to overcook.  {by the way, this website is a great source for information on safe cooking temps}

on a plate, this is what it looked like :

now, you may be wondering – just how the heck do you even EAT an artichoke?!  i realize maybe not everyone has had one…

i often wonder just who was the first person to look at an artichoke and be like, “hmmm, i bet the inside of the leaves of that thing are tasty!”  haha – here’s how you eat them :

peel back the leaves and eat the fleshy part at the bottom, away from the leaf.  it is creamy and yummy.  you can dip the ends in butter, mayonnaise, or if they’re really yummy – no dipping is necessary.

as you pull back each leaf, it appears like so :

artichokes are so pretty – they begin and end by looking like a flower.

also, the “heart” of the artichoke is what remains when it is scraped away from the base.

i always have a hard time chopping it up, i should probably look up how to properly do it.  but i just hack away and remove it from the stalk and from the remaining leaves, which are still edible. there is a fibrous section surrounding the heart – you will separate it from that.  you’ll know it’s the heart because DAMN!  what an amazing flavour.  as i mentioned, they are also in season and fully at their prime right now!  YUMMMMMM!  also, they are a low-calorie {60} high protein {4 grams} good source of fiber {6 grams} — hooray for that!

thanks for joining me as i cooked  my special seasonal meal 🙂

4 Responses to “wild seasonal halibut and fresh steamed artichokes”


  1. cheeky halibut and the usual « food and foto - May 21, 2012

    […] had never heard of halibut cheeks.  but after having that amazing wild caught halibut earlier this season, i knew i had to try them.  anything fresh, wild caught, and semi-local and […]


  2. cheeky halibut and the usual « food and foto - May 21, 2012

    […] had never heard of halibut cheeks.  but after having that amazing wild caught halibut earlier this season, i knew i had to try them.  anything fresh, wild caught, and semi-local and […]


  3. cheeky halibut and the usual « cooking with audrey - May 21, 2012

    […] had never heard of halibut cheeks.  but after having that amazing wild caught halibut earlier this season, i knew i had to try them.  anything fresh, wild caught, and semi-local and […]


  4. mushroom mania « food & foto - May 31, 2012

    […] so i didn’t really photograph it.  if you need a how-to on cooking artichokes, visit this blog with step-by-step instructions. purple artichokes are slightly more ‘earthy’ tasting […]


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