Spice-dusted halibut with fennel, cauliflower and a caper and raisin purée

Serves 8

Halibut is not traditional at Christmas, but I wanted to include an alternative flavour and break the mould a little. You don't just want the same old thing year in, year out.

For the spice mix

1/4tsp cumin seeds
1/4tsp coriander seeds
1/4tsp fennel seeds
1/4tsp star anise
1/4tsp turmeric
1/4tsp table salt

For the purée

50g/2oz capers
50g/2oz golden raisins

For the fish

Vegetable oil for frying
8 x 80g-100g/3oz-31/2oz skinless pieces of halibut
1 large knob of unsalted butter

For the cauliflower

4 large florets of cauliflower, broken into small florets, blanched in salted water and refreshed in iced water
1/2tsp sesame oil

For the fennel

1/4bulb fennel
1/2tsp chopped fennel fronds
1tsp Chardonnay or white-wine vinegar
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Dry-fry the spices until fragrant then blend using a mortar and pestle. Pass through a fine sieve and mix with the salt.

Now place the capers and raisins into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle simmer until the raisins have plumped up. Drain off the liquid, reserve, and blend in a blender, adding the reserved liquid if needed. Pass through a fine sieve, cover and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan. When hot, dust each side of the halibut with the spice mix then place carefully into the hot oil.

Fry until golden then gently turn over and add a large knob of unsalted butter to the pan. Allow the halibut to cook through for two to three minutes then remove on to a plate and keep warm.

Heat a clean saucepan with a teaspoon of vegetable oil; season the cauliflower, then, when the oil is smoking, quickly toss the florets. Brown, then add the sesame oil and remove from the pan.

For the fennel: slice the bulb crossways very finely and chop the fronds. Mix the vinegar and olive oil together and add to the sliced fennel bulb and fronds.

To assemble, place a spoonful of the caper-raisin purée on each plate and drag your spoon through. Place a piece of fish at the narrower end of the purée then dot the cauliflower around. Top each piece of fish with a portion of fennel salad and serve.

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