Recipe courtesy of Colette Nelson

Fresh Alaskan Halibut with Wild Huckleberry Harissa Sauce, Caramelized Shallots and Crispy Oyster Mushrooms with Fresh Basil

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Cook: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Huckleberry Sauce:

8 cups huckleberries (reserve a dozen berries for plating)

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup sparkling wine or Champagne

1/4 cup Harissa, recipe follows

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 fresh mint sprigs, at least 4 inches long


Four to six 6-ounce 1-inch-thick fresh halibut fillets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup white wine or vegetable stock

Caramelized Shallots, recipe follows, for serving

Crispy Oyster Mushrooms, recipe follows, for serving

Risotto or rice, optional, for serving

Harissa (Ludvig's Style):

6 whole cloves garlic

One 7-ounce can chipotles in adobo

1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground in spice grinder

1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground in spice grinder 

1/2 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika

1/2 tablespoon dried mint

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Caramelized Shallots:

1 tablespoon butter

Pinch salt

6 shallots, peeled and finely diced

Crispy Oyster Mushrooms with Fresh Basil:

1 tablespoon butter

Pinch salt

2 clusters oyster mushrooms, gently torn apart and each mushroom halved

2 clusters oyster mushrooms, gently torn apart and each mushroom halved 

8 fresh basil leaves, torn


  1. For the huckleberry sauce: Put the huckleberries, vinegar, sparkling wine, Harissa, sugar, salt and mint in a large saucepot over high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes over low heat to dissolve the sugar, evaporate the alcohol and let the flavors mingle. Next, pour the contents through a sieve to drain. Repeat a few times and use a paper towel or coffee filter to make the final "ready for reduction" sauce very smooth and silky. 
  2. When ready to serve, pour about 1 cup sauce into a saute pan over medium-high heat and let reduce or bubble until your desired color and thickness, about 5 minutes. It should be dark crimson in color and coat the back of the spoon. Taste for salt and spice; add more Harissa if you'd like to turn up the heat. Keep warm until ready to plate fish. 
  3. For the halibut: Halibut is very delicate and will turn into sawdust if overcooked. It only takes a few minutes to cook and is very flaky and juicy when cooked accurately. The longer you let the halibut sit after cooking, the dryer it will become. Have your plates ready for when you start cooking the halibut. 
  4. Pat the halibut dry and then sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Add the oil to large saute pan over medium-high heat (use anything other than nonstick for a nice golden sear). When the oil is just about to start smoking, lay the fillets gently in the pan as it drops in, falling away from your body, and immediately give the pan a shake. If the pan is hot enough, the fish will not stick. Let the fish cook until brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip the fillets over and deglaze with the white wine. Cover and let cook 3 more minutes. 
  5. To serve, ladle the huckleberry sauce on the plate first, and then put the fish on the sauce; don't cover up all of the sauce as it shines like a jewel. Place a dollop of Caramelized Shallots on top of the fish. Serve Crispy Oyster Mushrooms alongside; lay the mushrooms on the plate, like a bouquet of flowers with the round part of the mushroom facing up. Place a few of the fresh huckleberries on the plate to garnish. Serve with risotto or rice if desired. 

Harissa (Ludvig's Style):

  1. Add the garlic to a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the chipotle peppers, cumin, paprika, mint, oregano and salt. Puree until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Yield: about 1 1/2 cup.

Caramelized Shallots:

  1. In a small saute pan over low heat, melt the butter and add the salt. Add the shallots and cook until soft and brown, about 20 minutes. Make sure to achieve the brown color, which is the caramelization of the shallots and gives the great flavor. Save on the back burner on low until the fish is finished. Yield: about 1/2 cup.

Crispy Oyster Mushrooms with Fresh Basil:

  1. In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the salt. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mushrooms turn brown and crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. You can do this at the beginning of your dinner and keep them crispy over low heat. Before plating, add the basil leaves and toss a few times. Doing this just before you plate will help keep the basil leaves bright green. Yield: about 1 cup.
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