Spiced Halibut With Spinach and Chickpea Stew

Spiced Halibut With Spinach and Chickpea Stew

This highly aromatic dish is inspired by pkaila, a Tunisian condiment made by frying spinach in plenty of oil for a long time (traditionally hours) until it becomes almost black in color. This slow-frying transforms the spinach into a rich and flavorful version of itself. Here, the spinach isn't fried in so much oil, or for as long, but it still delivers a uniquely rich and wholly unexpected depth to the dish. The spinach stew can be made ahead of time but, if you do so, season the fish and chickpeas close to the time when you are going to cook them. The Persian lime powder is optional. You can buy it, or start with a whole dried Persian lime: Roughly crush it with the side of a knife and then grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Marinate the fish and chickpeas: In a small bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients together. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of marinade to a bowl with the halibut and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of the marinade to a separate bowl with the chickpeas and stir to combine. Set both aside at room temperature.
  2. Step 2

    Prepare the spinach stew: Add 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon/75 milliliters of the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat with the onion and gently fry for 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic, chile pepper, spices and cinnamon stick and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, add the herbs and some of the spinach to a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Repeat in batches until all the greens are finely chopped. Add the chopped spinach and herbs to the pot with the onions, along with 3 tablespoons of oil and the flaky salt. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the spinach turns a deep green color, almost gray.
  4. Step 4

    Add the chicken stock, sugar, lemon juice and 1/3 cup/100 milliliters water to the pot. Bring to a rapid simmer and then lower the heat. Cook for 20 minutes until thickened slightly.
  5. Step 5

    Make the salsa: Finely slice the lemon skin into very thin strips, then mix with the lemon juice and remaining salsa ingredients and set aside.
  6. Step 6

    When you’re ready to serve, heat a large nonstick frying pan on a high heat, then add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the chickpeas and fry for 6 minutes, stirring every now and then until crisp and golden-brown. Transfer to a plate and wipe the pan clean.
  7. Step 7

    Return the pan to a medium-high heat with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the halibut fillets, spaced apart, and fry for 3 minutes on one side, then flip and fry for another 2 minutes on the other side until both sides are crisp and golden brown.
  8. Step 8

    Add about two-thirds of the chickpeas to the stew and stir together, then transfer the stew to a large platter with a lip. Place the halibut fillets on top of the stew, then scatter over the remaining fried chickpeas. Finish with the salsa and serve at once, sprinkled with more flaky sea salt if you like.