A few months ago, I was in the grocery aisle looking for sesame oil. There was a fellow standing beside me, staring at the opposite shelf looking for wasabi. I try not to make generalizations but this fellow just didn’t strike me as the wasabi type.  Worn jeans, ball cap, crinkly face, suspenders and large calloused hands.  I asked him what he planned to do with the wasabi.  He instantly pulled a scratched-up photo of a prize-winning halibut from his shirt pocket and launched into a trotline of fishing stories from Sekiu to Baja and back to Neah Bay again. Completely animated, he continued on, describing his many recipes, as if taking a skillet out of the oven was every bit exciting as hooking the big one.  Needless to say, I was charmed.

Since that conversation in the aisle, I have been on the lookout for exciting halibut recipes that I could pair with some other seasonal ingredient.  Weeks passed and halibut season started, but I still hadn’t found the exact right recipe.  A few days ago, I was looking out my south window at the rain drenched garden and suddenly noticed that the rhubarb was clamoring for my attention. Thick juicy stalks, with their large fan-like leaves standing up in the cool wet breeze.  There was my recipe waving to me from the garden. Rhubarb and halibut – the perfect union of seasonal foods.

I have served this recipe twice now, once with halibut and once with rockfish (because let’s face it, halibut is pricey if you didn’t catch it yourself).   Either way, this is a super delicious pairing.  Even as I write about it this morning, my mouth is watering with the memory of last night’s dinner!  I should have taken a photo so I could carry it around in my pocket for when I get a chance to talk to strangers.

Pan Seared Halibut with Rhubarb Chutney        Recipe adapted from Edible Portland 2010 blog

Rhubarb Chutney       The recipe will make two pints, more than enough for the fish plus leftovers.

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 ½ cup thinly sliced onions

1 ½ tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds

pinch cayenne

½ cinnamon stick

2 ginger root coins with skin

1 cup cider vinegar

1 ½ – 1¾ cup brown sugar

1 ½ tsp.  salt

2 cups rhubarb chunks

½ cups raisins

Heat oil in a heavy sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Saute onions or shallots until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, add spices to vinegar and sugar and simmer 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and ginger pieces. Add onions and rhubarb and cook until rhubarb softens.  Season with more sugar, or pepper if desired.

Seared Halibut

4 6 oz pieces of halibut  (if you substitute with another white fish for a more affordable option, be careful not to overcook)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 tsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Generously salt and pepper the fish. Dust the fish with curry and flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until hot, sear the fish on high for about 1 minute on each side.  Turn down the heat and cover with a lid and continue cooking on medium until internal temperature reaches 135, flipping occasionally. Remove from cast iron immediately.  Serve with chutney.