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Steamed Halibut In Lettuce Leaves

This recipes comes from Dancer and Graphic artist Martin James. Martin, who originally comes from New Zealand, is now living with his wife and children in Copenhagen as he is currently principal Dancer with The Royal Danish Ballet. You will be able to find out more about Martin when his Biography page is published.



1 1/2 to 2 lbs. skinless halibut fillet
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 large head Bibb lettuce
1/4 cup very coarsely chopped fresh dill
6 (4-inch) sprigs fresh mint

4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground white pepper

Dill flowers or small dill sprigs

  • Check the fish for any stray bones and cut off any dark flesh that was next to the skin. Cut the fillet into four equally sized square pieces. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
  • Separate the outer leaves from the head of lettuce without tearing them. Place a leaf on the countertop, cupped side up, and center a piece of fish in the middle of the leaf. (If necessary, use two leaves to hold the fish.) Sprinkle the fish with 1 Tbsp. of the dill and top with another 1 - 2 lettuce leaves, this time cupped side down, so that the fish is completely enclosed in lettuce. If needed, you can use toothpicks to hold the lettuce packets together. Wrap the remaining fillets in lettuce, sprinkling 1 Tbsp. dill inside each one. Arrange packets, without crowding them, in a steamer rack or basket.
  • Bring several inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer. Drop the mint sprigs in the boiling water and put the steamer rack or basket in place. Cover and steam fish 8 minutes for each inch of thickness (e.g. if fish is 3/4 inch thick, steam 6 minutes). While the fish is steaming, make the sauce (directions below).
  • After appropriate amount of time, turn off the heat, uncover the steamer and let the fish sit for 1 to 2 minutes. To check that the fish is done, carefully lift the top leaf from one of the packets and cut into the fillet. If the fillet is still translucent in the center, cover and steam for another 1 to 2 minutes.


  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned - about 1 minute.Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Vigorously whisk in the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.
  • The sauce should be slightly thickened and the butter emulsified. Stir in the dill and season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Carefully transfer the fish packets to warm serving plates. Pour the sauce over and around the fish and garnish with the dill flowers.

Serves 8

Martin James