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This is one of the simplest, gentlest and most respectful ways to serve flat fish. The celery, oyster leaf and purslane bring a real freshness to the dish. We use farmed Gigha halibut. Gigha is the southernmost island in the Hebrides, with a population of no more than two hundred. It consistently supplies the very best halibut, fresh and smoked.

Posted by Bloomsbury Published See Bloomsbury's 41 projects » © 2023 Ollie Dabbous / Bloomsbury · Reproduced with permission. · Extract taken from Dabbous, published by Bloomsbury, £50.00, Hardback Photography © Joakim Blockstrom
  • Step 1

    Pickled garlic

    1. Put the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. 
    2. Place the garlic in a separate pan, add 3 litres of cold water and bring to the boil. Drain, and repeat twice.
    3. Transfer the garlic to the pickling liquor, which should be warm. 
    4. Add the bruised red perilla and leave overnight. The perilla will stain the garlic pink.

  • Step 2

    Braised celery

    Peel the celery, cut it into 7cm batons and place in a bowl. Bring the water and salt to the boil and pour them over the celery. Leave to cool, then drain.

  • Step 3


    1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the shallots and 2g of the salt, then cover and sweat for 5 –10 minutes, until soft.
    2. Add the mushrooms, another 2g salt and the lemon juice, mix well and sweat for another 5 minutes to release the juices from the mushrooms.
    3. Season the halibut bones with the remaining salt, add to the pan, cover and sweat for 5 minutes.
    4. Bring the wine to the boil separately, then add it to the pan.
    5. Boil for 30 seconds, then add the Noilly Prat and boil for another 30 seconds.
    6. Add the milk and cream and simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lemon verbena and infuse for 2 minutes.
    7. Pass through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids. Chill immediately over ice then transfer to the fridge.

  • Step 4


    1. Season the halibut very lightly. 
    2. Place each piece in a vacuum bag with 50ml of the sauce, seal and cook in a waterbath at 46°C for 12 minutes. Alternatively, heat the sauce and very gently braise the halibut in it for about 5 minutes, until just cooked through.

  • Step 5

    To assemble

    1. Remove the halibut from the bags or the sauce, place it on a baking tray and flash under a hot grill for a few seconds. Squeeze over a little lemon juice.
    2. Lightly dress the pink purslane with the lemon dressing.
    3. Place each piece of halibut in a serving bowl on top of 2 oyster leaves. Top with the celery, pickled garlic and pink purslane.
    4. Reheat the sauce, lightly froth it with a hand blender and generously pour it over.

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