On Fennel Crusted Halibut With Asparagus and Pea Salad

Dear readers,

Did you notice the new color scheme?! I finally took the time to figure out the color hex codes of my logo and VOILA – actually thought, huh I bet I can customize the colors of my website to match. LOL You’d think I would have figured that out a while ago, but better late than never! PLUS, given it’s VALENTINE’S DAY, the color shift is MOST appropriate no?

Today’s dish was inspired by a multitude of things. 1) I wanted to really go outside the box and I’ve been seeing “fennel crusted” [fish] a lot lately, so I thought, okay, we’ll do that, but what to pair with it?

2) Well…who doesn’t love peas and asparagus? As you know, I make a MEAN Addictive Asparagus with Leeks and Shallots, so I thought, okay, what if I took my pea puree and did it with asparagus instead? The addition of tarragon was inspired by another recipe that I had been perusing over, and it truly made the sauce what it became…I honestly want to take an asparagus risotto with lobster using this sauce as the broth, so stay tuned for that fancy remake.

And 3) okay, now to also pair with this…if green is the color, let’s lean into it. I had come across a recipe for Michelle Obama’s pea salad, HOWEVER, upon review, I have to say the fact the shallots and leeks are raw was just not my jam, so I decided to veer away from her recipe and do cooked leeks and shallots, brought to cool, then added to the peas. Put it altogether, and it honestly could NOT have come out any better. Even Frankie was a member of the clean plate club, and he’s not always the most avid fish eater.

I hope you guys give this a try, and stay tuned for my risotto plan because this sauce was off the hook good.

P.S. Don’t forget that you can order cookies from me directly from my Cookie Order Page on this very same blog! (Yes, shameless plug, but I need to keep pushing it!)

Hoping you are safe and well!

— Cooking Maggie

On Fennel Crusted Halibut With Asparagus and Pea Salad


for the halibut

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 thick filets of halibut (can use cod, black cod or sea bass)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • light sprinkling of fennel seeds
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced ( or more thawed peas!!!)
  • 1 lemon
  • Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves

for the asparagus sauce

  • 1 shallot, rough diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (divided)
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black ground pepper, more to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh tarragon, more to taste (this is what gives the sauce that oomph)
  • (optional for more greenness) 1/4 cup spinach
  • (optional for more lushness) olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon

for the pea salad

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bag of frozen green peas, thawed overnight in the fridge
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small leek, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and very light green parts only)
  • Zest and juice of a medium sized lemon
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped (you can always add more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. For the Asparagus Sauce
    • Cut the top 2-3 inches off the asparagus and set these tips aside (You only need about 5-6 tops per plate). For the rest of the asparagus, cut the very tops and tough ends, discard. Slice the remaining stalks into very thin, 1/4 inch thick disks, until you have about 1 1/2 cups.
    • In a small saucepan, cook the shallot in the butter over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus disks and sauté 1-2  minutes, stirring, then add the stock. Cover and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until asparagus is fork-tender. (Don’t overcook or you will lose the lovely color.)
    • Let this cool, then pour into a blender along with salt, tarragon and a squeeze of lemon. Blend everything until smooth. Taste and adjust your lemon, salt, and add more tarragon if you’re really digging the flavor (I used the ENTIRE pack from my grocery store for this sauce). Optional: for additional greenness, add spinach as well, or to add a little more lushness to it, add some olive oil (a couple tbsp at a time). Blend and taste and adjust to your liking. Place in a small saucepan and set aside until ready to serve. (This can also be made ahead and refrigerated.)
  2. For the Pea Salad
    • In a small pan, melt the butter then add your leeks and shallots until they are soft (but not browned).
    • While leeks and shallots are cooking, purée half a cup of the peas with the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mint in a blender or food processor until smooth, and set aside.
    • In a bowl, put in the rest of the peas with the leeks and shallots. Toss gently to combine, then pour the pea purée over the salad and gently combine with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to plate.
  3. For the Halibut
    • Pat the fish dry and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the tops with fennel seeds and gently press down into the fish.
    • In a large skillet heat the butter over medium heat. Place fish, fennel seed side-down, and sear until golden, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and add the asparagus tips and sliced radishes to the same pan. Season with salt and pepper and lightly sauté them alongside the fish.
    • When the fish is done to your liking, squeeze with lemon juice and gently warm the asparagus sauce, stirring often and just to warm it up – cooking it may cause the lovely color to darken.
  4. Plating
    • Pour a generous amount of the sauce on the bottom of the plate (photo shows a wee bit too much sauce, but I went back for more, so maybe still not enough, haha!)
    • Place some of the pea salad in the middle, top with the fish, and place your radishes and asparagus around the fish.
    • Top with tarragon leaves and a squirt of lemon, and be praised by those who clean their plate (a guarantee).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.