Halibut with Ham and Roasted Fennel in Pastis

A Pastis-infused creamy sauce and roasted fennel add a delicious aniseed edge to Lesley Water's Parma ham-wrapped halibut
By Lesley Waters
Halibut with Ham and Roasted Fennel in Pastis
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the roasted fennel

  • 2 bulb fennel
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, not peeled

For the sauce

  • 150 ml pastis
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 150 ml double cream
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mash

  • 900 g floury potatoes, such as King Edwards or Maris Piper
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 ml hot milk

For the halibut

  • 4 x 170 g boneless skinless halibut steaks
  • 4 large slices Parma ham
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • salt and black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

2. For the roasted fennel, cut each fennel bulb lengthways into 8 wedges. Roughly chop the fennel tops and leave on one side.

3. Blanch the fennel in boiling water for 5 minutes, or until slightly tender; drain well and pat dry.

4. Put the fennel in a roasting tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Season and roast for 20 minutes. Add the garlic and roast for a further 15 minutes.

5. To make the sauce, combine the Pernod and stock in a small pan. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and simmering gently until reduced by a third. Pour in the cream and reduce for a further 4-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

6. Squeeze the roasted garlic flesh from the skin into a small bowl and mash to a pulp. Pour in a little of the hot sauce and beat well until smooth. Stir the garlic and reserved fennel tops into the hot sauce. Season with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and keep warm. While the fennel is roasting, cook the potatoes.

7. For the mash, rinse the potatoes and put them in a large pan of cold water. Salt generously, partially cover with a lid and bring to the boil.

8. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender; drain them well. Carefully pull off the skins with a sharp knife if necessary, before dropping them back into the pan and returning to the heat.

9. Mash them with the butter until there are no lumps. Pour in the hot (but not boiling) milk and beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Keep warm, while you cook the halibut.

10. For the halibut, season the steaks and wrap each in a slice of Parma ham. Heat the oil and lemon juice in a lidded frying pan and lay the wrapped halibut in the hot oil. Cook very gently on the hob, basting occasionally, for 4-5 minutes until tender. Serve with the roasted fennel and creamy mashed potato straight away.

Rate This Recipe