Recipe: Capriccio of smoked Gigha halibut

Smoked Giga halibut capraccio.
Smoked halibut is the star.
Social media can be a wonderful thing. It can bring together individuals and organisations that share common interests, but which might never normally meet. I have Twitter to thank for discovering Gigha Halibut – the Scottish company that farms halibut as sustainably as possible (see my previous post for more information on what they do so well). So, after a conversation via the ‘twitter-sphere’, I was delighted when I was offered some smoked Gigha Halibut to try.

Last Friday was filled with excitement and anticipation as I opened the package of smoked halibut, that had been dispatched the day before, from one of our smallest inhabited Hebridean islands. The enticing cream and golden-edged slices presented me with a dilemma, however. How exactly was I going to serve them?

Halibut is one of my favourite fishes to eat, but never before have I encountered it smoked. My first thought was to produce a posh take on kedgeree. Yet upon tasting a corner of a slice, it became obvious that these fish portions were too subtly delicious for that. The flesh was pearly, glistening and sweet – almost with a flavour reminiscent of scallops. It carried a beautiful subtly smoky accent, like a really good whisky. Hardly surprising given that the fish are smoked with chips made from the oak barrels sourced from Islay’s Kilchoman distillery.

Smoked Giga halibut capraccio.
Really tasty fish.
I had to use this exquisite seafood in a way that really showed it off. So I decided to prepare a smoked halibut capriccio, adding just a few seasonal vegetables to compliment the flavour of the smoked fish, and adorning it simply, with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette. Radish and watercress provide a little fresh heat; baby beetroot, sweet richness; and the tomatoes subtle acidity. I’m afraid I couldn’t resist gilding the lily, by adding a few teaspoons of lumpfish roe for its salty taste and visual effect.

So what would be the bottom line? The dish was delicious, and that had very little to do with my concoction or preparation. This left me with a dilemma as whether to keep the fantastic Gigha smoked halibut my little secret, or share its brilliance with the rest of you. It was a close call…

This dish will serve four as a light lunch or starter, or two greedy boys/girls as a main (with bread and butter).


Ingredients

  • 200g of Smoked Gigha Halibut
  • A good handful of watercress
  • 3-4 radishes, finely sliced (use a mandolin if you have one, but watch your fingers!)
  • 3-4 young beetroot finely sliced (precooked organic is fine, but make sure they contain no vinegar)
  • 8-10 cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • Dill shoots, to garnish
  • Lumpfish roe to garnish (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper, to season


Preparation
  1. Remove the halibut from its packaging and place on a large plate or shallow dish. Pour over the lemon juice, so it covers the fish and leave for a couple of minutes. The fish will have been cooked by being smoked, but by marinating it in the lemon juice it will provide an element of ‘ceviche’.
  2. Pour off the lemon juice into a glass beaker and set aside. It will have taken up the smoky flavour of the fish.
  3. Finely slice the radishes and beetroot, and halve the tomatoes.
  4. Place the watercress on a clean large plate or shallow dish.
  5. Arrange the fish on top of the watercress and then place the vegetables on top of the halibut slices.
  6. Garnish with the dill and roe – if using.
  7. Add twice the amount of olive oil to the reserved lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and whisk to create a light vinaigrette. Pour over the dish, and serve.
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