Alaskan Halibut with Morels

This dish sums up the spirit of summer

By HOWARD KARP for the Flathead Beacon

This dish sums up the spirit of summer. Its white flakey Alaskan halibut with Oregon morel mushrooms, wild leeks, fresh ramps and green peas laced with a light buttered broth cream sauce present an impressionist display of colors and textures. Ramps grow in the wild and resemble hybrids of scallions and small leeks, providing a soft, sweet onion flavor. With the ramp growing season being only four to five weeks long beginning in early May, this dish is a perfect way to celebrate the freshness of spring.


Yield: 4 Servings


1/2 cup fresh peas

12 ramps

5 medium leeks, using white parts and about 1 inch of the green

5 to 6 small to medium fingerling or creamer potatoes

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 oz. fresh morel mushrooms, ends trimmed, large caps halved and thoroughly washed

Course sea salt

White pepper, freshly ground

In a sauce pan, bring approximately two cups of salted water to a boil. Set aside an ice water bath to shock the vegetables after blanching. Once water reaches a boil, add peas. Boil for four minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon, and place in ice water bath. Cut one inch off the green tops of the ramps and boil for three minutes, then place in ice water bath. Cut the bases of the leeks into ½-inch slices. Rinse well. Separate into rings. Boil for three minutes, and then place into ice water bath.

In a separate sauce pan, cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and cover.

In another sauce pan, melt butter. Add morels. Sauté for approximately six to eight minutes. Season with salt and white pepper. Remove from heat, and set aside. Cover to keep warm.

Sauce and assembly:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept chilled

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Course sea salt

White pepper, freshly ground

4 Alaskan halibut filets, 7-ounce pieces

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons chives, finely minced

8 chervil sprigs (young parsley)

In a sauce pan, bring the reserved 1 cup of vegetable cooking broth to a boil over high heat. Add cream, and cook for five to eight minutes. Lower heat, and add butter to one piece at a time, whisking well after each piece is added. This emulsifying technique results in a rich and creamy texture.

Drain potatoes and slice into ½ inch-thick rounds. Add potatoes, peas, ramps and leeks to mushrooms and their juice to the sauce pan. Carefully stir until heated thoroughly. Add lemon juice, and cover.

Season halibut with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch sauté pan, add grapeseed oil, and heat over medium until hot but not smoking. Cook halibut for three minutes on each side. Place in a 350-degree oven for eight to 10 minutes. Remove and allow it to rest for a few minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, create a mound of vegetables in the center of each plate. Top with a halibut filet and a few additional vegetables. Add chives to sauce. Spoon a couple of tablespoons over and around each serving. Garnish with chervil sprigs.

Howard Karp is the Executive Chef at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program,