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Braised Pacific Halibut with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Clams

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 101

The halibut's smooth, buttery texture is accented here by the sharp brininess of the clams. Be sure not to overcook the halibut; its texture is best when the fish is just barely cooked through

  • 4 oz. (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • ½ lb. oyster or hen of the woods mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 3 large leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 4 skinless Pacific halibut fillets (about 4 oz. each)
  • 16 to 24 small clams, such as Manila or littlenecks, scrubbed
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Melt the butter over medium heat in an 11- or 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with a lid. Add the mushrooms and leeks and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Nestle the fish and clams among the vegetables in the skillet. Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through and the clams have opened, about 7 minutes. If all of the clams are not open, remove the fish and the open clams and continue cooking until the remaining clams open, another 2 to 3 minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened by this time.

Serve the fish in warmed shallow soup bowls, topped with leeks and mushrooms, surrounded by clams and broth, and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Serving Suggestions

To make it a complete meal, serve with a green side salad and Steamed Jasmine Rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 480; Fat (g): fat g 28; Fat Calories (kcal): 250; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 15; Protein (g): protein g 40; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 17; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 460; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 125; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a wonderful recipe. I made it several times and it always works perfectly. It's even possible to reheat it the day after and it still turns out delicious. A bit expensive given the price of halibut but so worth it.

This is amazing! The combination of halibut, mushrooms, clams, and leeks makes for a very nice flavor and texture profile.

Wow, as easy as it sounds, and turned out amazing. Thanks for the prior suggestions of substituting some wine for chicken broth, and ghee for the butter. turned out perfect and so flavorful. the Jasmine rice underneath was the perfect addition. Do not forget the fresh parley, added a great note of freshness. the Hens in the wood mushroom was not easy to find, but i think was the perfect mushroom for this delicate recipe

This is a terrific recipe. I couldn't find halibut so used cod instead and it was the best cod I've ever eaten. After reading the reviews I replaced a cup of the chicken stock with a cup of white wine and the resulting broth was delicious. I also used a mix of oyster mushrooms and shiitakes which seemed to work fine. The whole dinner came together in about forty minutes, including making a salad while the fish cooked. A keeper!

There are many recipes I will try once, some, a few times and others like this one become part of my cooking repetoire. I add a little garlic and white wine as other readers suggested. I also add spinach or kale to make it a heartier dish. Mussels could be added to or substituted for the clams. The broth is great and the dish warrants some crusty bread and a Sauvignon Blanc. A simple yet very special dish.

This was my first foray into recipes from the magazine. My boyfriend loves cooked fish, me I like mine raw, however this recipe was great. The fish was perfectly cooked and the flavor very subtle yet delicious. I kept the before dinner drinks and appetizers on the same flavor level as to not overpower our taste buds by the time we got to this since it was mildly seasoned. There are a couple of things I would do differently the next time. First, do not salt and pepper the fish, instead season the broth fully before putting the fish in as it is too difficult to do once the fish and clams are in and it definitely needed it. Second, I would add a little bit of wine, not sure what kind yet, I will have to experiment. Finally, I will leave off the parsley as the flavor over powered the subtle nature of the dish. Other than those three things it was a great recipe and one I will repeat. One other thing I learned in the process of making this dish. I had never cooked with oyster mushrooms before and was tasting them before cooking. I learned very fast that you DO NOT EAT RAW OYSTER MUSHROOMS! Big mistake and one my tummy got rid of in a hurry. I checked the internet later and it said that I was dork for doing this. Oh well, lesson learned.

As a caterer, I am constantly looking for recipes that utilize local foods (Pacific Northwest, so clams and halibut are abundant!) and this is one of my top rockstars! A wonderful change I made to this is to sub half the butter for ghee, or clarified butter, and it brings a silky smoothness to this that just screams for the sauce to be soaked up with a divine artisanal bread served alongside it. I also add a bit of white wine to the mix to kick it up a notch. We serve it in 12" pasta bowls to get the full effect of how gorgeous this dish looks when served, garnished with fresh parsley or chives.

The times when I can find both fresh Pacific halibut AND littleneck clams in one market are rare, so when I found the clams, I substituted scallops for the halibut. I did a quick sear of the scallops and added them to the cooked clam mixture about 2 minutes before serving. I substituted olive oil for 1/2 of the butter. Served with green salad and a large slice of grilled Italian garlic bread for dunking in the broth. All very good. My husband and I both thought that the broth could benefit from some wine--possibly reduced at the end of the saute--and a bit of herb seasoning, possibly even a pinch of saffron. I would not add any salt, especially if using packaged broth. We will definitely do this again.

Wow, this was so good. So light and refreshing. I was really skeptical since there were so few ingredients but it was fabulous. The halibut was so flaky and tender cooked in the broth. I took the advice of others here and cut the butter in half and we didn't miss it.

We didn't add the clams, but included everything else. Excellent, will definitely make it again, especially while halibut is fresh and in season.

Amazing meal! Great comfort food. I have made it several times, using different seafoods and sometimes adding in lemongrass. Very easy, doesn't take much effort and maximum impact of flavors!

I created this dish with littleneck clams only and a mixture of mushrooms because they were what I had in the pantry. I served it over linguine and it was delish. I cut the butter in half and that was plenty to give the broth a sublime richness. Plus, did not feel as guilty slurping it up!

Excellent soup for a cold day, served with fresh steamed rice.

Excellent! Served with a scoop of Jasmine rice!!

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