Ponzu Poached Halibut And Shitake

halibut in a ponzu

Once again, no real story behind this, just another Friday night. The wife brought home halibut and I thought I would make a Dijon crusted dish in the oven, but when I opened up the bag and saw super thin halibut filets, I knew that wasn’t going to fly. So I raided the fridge, pantry and garden and came up with the below Japanese inspired dish, a ponzu poached halibut with shitake mushrooms.

Two lessons learned – first, basil does not go good with this; thus, the reason why I have removed from the recipe and added what I wish we had on hand – baby bok choy. Second, and I don’t know why I never trust myself on this, the onions don’t need to be cooked. I make the same mistake every time I make Pho by adding the onions to the broth while it’s simmering and I always get the same shameful result – onions in the style of  French Onion Soup.

And truth be told, it is sort of a version of a dish I had some time ago at Terra, a restaurant in Napa Valley. Their dish is “Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black  Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth” and it is to die for. So good, we bought Hiro & Lissa’s cookbook which they graciously signed for us and, almost ten years later, it has remained as the only cookbook that sits out on our counter to this day.

Ponzu Poached Halibut And Shitake Recipe


3 cups chicken stock
1 cup soy sauce
½ cup sake or white wine
½ cup mirin
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey

2 pieces of halibut (about .4 lbs each)
2 inches of fresh ginger sliced
2 cloves of garlic smashed
1 cup of dried shitake mushrooms rehydrated
¼ cup julienned carrots
¼ white onion sliced
1 thai chile diced
2 baby bok choys, leaves
1 tsp of sugar

Put the ginger and garlic in the middle of oven with the top broiler on and roast for 10 minutes. While this is roasting, mix all the ingredients for the broth in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the ginger and garlic to the simmering broth and simmer for 5 more minutes. Set sauce aside and let it cool.

Once sauce is cool, marinade the fish in it for 15 minutes. Then pour sauce into a large pan and bring back to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, add fish, then cover and cook for 8 minutes (depending how thick), flipping at the 4 minute mark. Remove fish to warmed serving bowls while leaving the sauce in the pan. Remove and discard any of the garlic or ginger.

Add the mushrooms and carrots to the sauce and continue at a lively simmer for 3 minutes. Add the onions, thai chile and bok choy leaves to the fish bowl. Pour the simmer broth with mushrooms and carrots over the fish and fill so that just the top of the fish is uncovered. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of the fish and use a blow torch to caramelize.



  1. Have you ever thought of deep frying the onions quickly, drying them on paper towel and using them as a garnish for this? It’d give a great texture change to the rest of the recipe too.

    Love the baby bok choi though, and perhaps purple basil, or chinese basil instead of the European basil may have given a slightly different flavour and still worked?

    1. Those are both great ideas! I even have some of the Thai Basil in the garden – it just isn’t big enough yet.

  2. Seems like a lot of broth for only 2 pieces of fish. Does it cook down? And is it salty?

    1. You know I didn’t actually measure anything 😉 That said though, that is about the ratio and about the amount. I use low sodium chicken stock and soy sauce so I probably should have noted that; otherwise, yes it would be too salty. The sweet of the honey and wine cuts it a bit. It does cook down some and to actually poach the foot long fillets I had I needed a fairly large pan. Once served, there was probably a cup of left over broth.

  3. Wow! Such an appetising photo. If you don’t have a blow torch, could you pop the halibut under the grill for a few minutes to caramelise?

    1. Sure you can put it under the broiler, but every girl should own a blow torch!

      1. Haha. Yeah, I think it’s time to invest on one 🙂

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