Saffron-scented Halibut with Tomato Basil Compote

I like to find recipes that have a restaurant feel to them but can be made at home. This recipe falls into that category. Simple and elegant.

I have been eating a lot more fish lately, primarily due to the increased quality and availability at one of our local stores. We can now get thicker fillets of good fish that you would feel comfortable serving at a dinner party.

This recipe comes directly from Chef Jason Wilson in the blog area for the Sous Vide Supreme. The recipe did not exactly match the video that I saw Chef Wilson making this dish, so I have adjusted the cooking times. While I did cook mine with the Sous Vide Supreme, I think this recipe could easily be made without it. I would suggest baking the Halibut in a parchment pouch in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and steaming the zucchini ribbons. I had some asparagus lying around, so I added them to the recipe and liked the results. Chilean sea bass would be a good substitute in this recipes as well.

One last suggestion…set your fish our on the counter for a little while prior to cooking. This allows for more even cooking, especially for thicker fish fillets.

For the Halibut:

  • 4 (5 ounce/150 g) halibut fillets, fresh and boneless
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) kosher or sea salt, divided use
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) fish (or vegetable) stock
  • 3 tablespoons (15 ml) butter
  • 15 threads Spanish saffron
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) orange zest, chopped well
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

For the Compote:

  • 1/2 cup (120 g) fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 ml) ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) orange zest, chopped well

For the Zucchini: 

  • 2 whole green zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon (5 ml) chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced chives (for garnish)


1. Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme to 140F/60C.

2. Cut the halibut into thick, even cubes, season it with a little salt, and set aside.

3. In a saucepan over low heat, simmer the fish stock, butter, saffron, orange zest, and a pinch of salt and whisk for 3 minutes.

4. Put the fillets, two to a pouch, into small (quart/0.9 liter) cooking pouches and pour the saffron and butter mixture over the fish, dividing it evenly between the pouches.

5. Vacuum seal the pouches and set aside.

6. In a saucepan over medium high heat, warm 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil; toast the garlic in the oil until golden, then add the shallots and water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

7. Add the tomatoes, basil, black pepper and orange zest to the saucepan and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

8. Put the tomato mixture into a small (quart/0.9 liter) cooking pouch, vacuum seal, and set aside.

9. Trim the ends from the zucchini and season with the remaining olive oil, a bit of salt, the lemon zest and parsley.

10. Put the zucchini into a small (quart/0.9 liter) cooking pouch and vacuum seal.

11. Submerge the zucchini in the water oven and set the timer for 12 minutes.

12. Add the tomato compote and halibut pouches and reset the timer for 12 minutes.

13. Remove all the pouches. Using a vegetable peeler, make ‘ribbons’ of zucchini and toss them with the residual liquid from the cooking pouch. Fold the ribbons and arrange them on the serving plate.

14. Remove the fish from the pouch and plate it on a bed of zucchini ribbons, topped with the tomato compote and a sprinkling of fresh chives.

The finished plate

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