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Halibut fishing off the coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound has started to ramp up, and anglers will be loading up on these delicious white-fleshed fish.

This week, AQUA by El Gaucho executive chef Wesley Hood shares a grilled halibut recipe that will have your dinner guests asking for more.

Hood along with other chefs from El Gaucho, El Gaucho in Bellevue and The Inn at El Gaucho will be contributing a handful their delicious recipes for the Reel Time Northwest Fishing blog. Each of recipe will be related to the “catch” of the week.

Hood has a passion for food and cooking that began at age 15. In 2000, he arrived in Seattle and worked full-time at the Meridian Restaurant and Classic Catering. Since then, he has spent time in the kitchens at Palisade Restaurant, Elliott’s Oyster House and Union Square Grill, before joining El Gaucho.

Exectutive chef Wesley Hood of AQUA by El Gaucho in Pier 70 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of El Gaucho Restaurants.
Exectutive chef Wesley Hood of AQUA by El Gaucho in Pier 70 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of El Gaucho Restaurants.

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This season, esteemed local chefs will share recipes and advice on how to cook a wide variety of local seafood weekly from April through October. This year’s lineup of chefs: Tom Douglas, owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, among others; executive chef Jason Brzozowy of Maria Hines’ Tilth; chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura; executive chef Pat Donahue at Anthony’s Restaurants; Chef Shota Nakajima, owner of Naka; Jason Wilson, owner of Miller’s Guild; Chef Jun Takai, from Shiro’s Sushi; Taylor Hoang, from Pho Cyclo; Chef Maximillian Petty, from Eden Hill; and Chef Megan Coombes, from Altstadt.

Recipes will be posted every Wednesday and/or Thursday through Nov. 2. Also, if you have a recipe you’d like to reel-in my way, please let me know and I will post them, and will even test it out with my family and friends.

Grilled Halibut and Blood Orange Butter Sauce with Arugula, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad

For the halibut: 

4 8-ounce halibut steaks

4 ounces baby wild arugula

8 ounces fennel bulb, shaved thinly (you should be able to see through the delicate slices)

2 blood oranges, cut into sections

4 lemon wedges, seeded

Salt and pepper

 

Section the oranges, wash the arugula, shave the fennel, and make the vinaigrette ahead of time. Prep the butter sauce just before service and store it in a warm place, or in an insulated container.

Grill the halibut until just past translucent, or until an internal temperature of 120 degrees has been reached.

Just prior to serving, mix the arugula, fennel and blood orange segments together with the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle the Blood Orange Butter Sauce onto the plates.

Place the grilled halibut on top of the sauce. Garnish the plates with the salad and lemon wedges.

 

For the blood orange butter sauce:

½ ounce blood orange juice

½ pound unsalted butter, cold

Salt and white pepper to taste

 

Heat the blood orange juice in a sauce pan, swirl in chilled butter a little at a time to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

For the blood orange vinaigrette: 

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon blood orange juice

¾ tablespoon honey

5 ounces canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients together in a blender except the oil. Pour the oil in a slow and steady stream while blending to emulsify.

Ernie Campany of Des Moines (right) with a 130 pound halibut he caught last year while fishing aboard the Ms. Magoo Charterboat out of Westport.
Ernie Campany of Des Moines (right) with a 130 pound halibut he caught last year while fishing aboard the Ms. Magoo Charterboat out of Westport.

A word on halibut fishing

Halibut fishing at Westport is allowed on May 10, 15 and 17; closed May 22 and 24. More dates could be added if enough remains in the quota. Last year, the Westport offshore season was open five days, and has averaged five to six days in previous years. A nearshore “incidental” catch fishery at Westport is open daily until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.

Ilwaco is open for halibut on Thursdays through Sundays of each week, and will close once the quota is achieved. The Ilwaco nearshore fishery is open Mondays through Wednesdays only.

Neah Bay and La Push are open May 12 and 14. Catches will then be assessed to see if more openings are possible.

The coastwide halibut sport catch quota is 214,110 pounds, identical to 2015 and 2014.

The inner-marine waterway halibut fishery saw high winds and an extreme low minus tide that put a damper on this past Saturday’s opener, and catches were on the poor side. The sport-catch quota this season of 57,393 pounds.

Halibut fishing from Sekiu in the Strait Juan de Fuca to central Puget Sound is open May 12-14 and May 26-29.

In all areas, the daily catch limit is one halibut with no minimum size limit.