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Recipe: Halibut with mussels

07 June 2017 at 11:47


I have just returned from walking St. Columba’s way which goes from St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland to the island of Iona on the west coast of Argyll. It's a 220 mile pilgrimage between two of our most important Christian centres. The route took me across Mull where after we had pitched our tents, we foraged for mussels and cooked them simply in white wine with onions, garlic and cream. A meal fit for a king!  With views over the sea to the islands of Colonsay, Jura and Islay and a clear blue sky, the west coast and Argyll was looking at its best.

If you are not fortunate enough to forage for wild mussels, then it’s easy to buy superb rope grown farmed mussels. On our drive back we stopped and picked up a couple of bags from the Inverlussa mussel farm just west of Craignure on Mull. This recipe makes a dinner party meal of mussels by cooking halibut with it! And if you don’t want guests fiddling with shells you can remove them before you serve the dish.

Recipe for steamed halibut & mussels with white wine and cream:


20 mussels
4 small fillets halibut about 150g each
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
bay leaf
sprig fresh thyme
6 peppercorns
1/4 pint dry white wine
1/4 pint double cream


  1. Scrub the mussels in plenty of cold water and discard any which remain open when tapped lightly.
  2. Remove the “beard”, the little bit of weed attached to the side of the mussel.
  3. Peel and finely chop the onion. Do the same with the carrot. Chop the celery finely.
  4. Put the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns into a deep pan, add the wine. Place the halibut fillets on top and then the mussels.
  5. Cover and steam over a medium heat, until the mussel shells open, this will take about 5 minutes. The halibut will be cooked too.
  6. Remove the fish and shellfish and set aside to keep warm. Turn up the heat under the pan and reduce the liquid by half, add the cream, simmer rapidly to allow the sauce to thicken slightly, remove the herbs.
  7. Place the fish on four plates or bowls and the mussels around or remove the shells and just use the flesh. Spoon over the sauce, some small Ayrshire potatoes are good with this or Epicures at any rate.


Recipe by Christopher Trotter
Food photography by Caroline Trotter