Top 50 Gastropubs

Halibut with cobnut crust, cauliflower and cockles

By James Mackenzie

  • 4 x 200g chunky portions of halibut or cod
  • 400ml fish stock
  • 100g roughly chopped cobnuts
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 40g grated parmesan cheese
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 100ml water
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Romanesque cauliflower
  • Yellow cauliflower
  • Purple cauliflower
  • 150g cobnuts for garnish
  • 1kg fresh cockles
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 150ml double cream


To make the cauliflower champ, thinly slice the white cauliflower florets and place in a saucepan with 200ml whipping cream and 100ml water cover the pan with a lid and cook on a medium heat until the cauliflower is just cooked about 20 minutes.

Remove form the heat and place the cooked cauliflower and cream into a food processor and blend until a smooth puree.

Season with white pepper and salt to taste. Reserve until needed. Finely slice the spring onions ready to add to the cauliflower puree.

If you are able to get hold of the optional coloured cauliflowers. Boil the Romanesque in salted water until just tender and finish with a little butter.

If desired, cook the yellow one with some saffron in the water – this is optional.

To give a contrast to the dish, thinly slice the purple cauliflower and place in some white wine vinegar to pickle for 2 minutes.

To make the cobnut crust mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with your hand until like a rough crumb.

Place the halibut fillets into a deep baking tray and top each one with the cob nut crust, pour the 400ml of fish stock around the fish and place in the oven at 180 to bake for about 8 – 12 minutes dependent on the size and thickness of the fish. Try and use nice thick pieces of fish. Remove from the oven – the crust should be golden brown.

For the cockle sauce, heat a large sauce pan, place in the cockles, sliced shallot and white wine, put a lid on and cook over a high heat until the cockles open. Remove the cooked cockles, pick the meat out of them and reserve.

Pour the cream into the cockle cooking stock and reduce until a sauce consistency, add the cockle meat back to the sauce to warm and finish with chopped dill.

To make up the dish add the spring onion to the cauliflower puree and warm. Place a large spoon full of the champ on each plate, place the coloured cauliflower around if using and place the fish on top. Garnish with some toasted chopped cobnuts and spoon around the cockle sauce.