Seared halibut with tomatoes is a quick and easy meal that is packed with flavor. The cherry tomatoes and simmered in wine and butter with capers and basil. A healthy meal that feeds the family easily.
This has always been a go to meal whenever I have some fresh halibut. It is so easy to make and since I normally have all of these ingredients handy is it easy to just throw together. My favorite way to turn this simple meal into something special is to pair it with a white wine and herb risotto. I use the same wain in the sauce to make the risotto. It makes it a perfect dinner for a date or a quick and easy meal for the whole family.
In this recipe
There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this recipe but all of them ensure that this dish is jam packed with flavor.
Halibut: This is the star of the show. It is a a mild flakey fish that pairs well with tomatoes and capers. You can swap this fish for another mild fish or one of my favorite, sea bass.
Capers: these flower buds and salty and acidic with hints of lemon.
Butter: this will help balance out the acid from several of the other ingredients.
Tomatoes: these are the basis of the sauce. As they burst the water and juices released will create and nice creamy sauce.
Quick seared halibut
One of the things you need to be careful about is how long you cook the halibut. It is a lean fish so it is easy to dry out pretty quickly especially if overcooked. You will want to to cook it no more than 2-3 minutes per side based on the thickness. If you look at the side you will want to see the fish turn opaque no more than half way up the first side. If there is a thin line that is still translucent on the side that is a perfect time to remove the fish so it doesn’t over cook.
That white stuff on the halibut
That is called albumin and it is natural to see in fish. It is a protein in the fish that is gets pushed out as the fish cooks. The faster it cooks the faster you will see it. Seeing a few beads is fine if you see it everywhere then it might be a sign that the fish over cooked. The way to prevent this when cooking any fish is to cook it at a lower temperature for a longer time However since we want that sear it is ok to see some of it on the sides of the fish.
When you first add the oil and tomatoes to the pan you will want to leave them alone for the first couple of minutes. Then you will start to gently stir them around. The skin will start to split and they will burst, gently, once the liquid in the tomatoes starts getting warm enough the steam will make them spilt and you will hear light popping noises. This is a good thing. Once about 2/3 of the tomatoes have burst you can add the garlic and shallots as they will continue to burst.
The final touches
Once the sauce is about ready then you can add the capers. They will add a slightly tangy flavor to the sauce and that will mellow with the butter in the sauce. Next you will add the halibut back into the sauce but only for a brief amount of time to keep the temperature of the fish but not to continue to cook it. Top it with the julienned basil and serve with the halibut on top of the sauce with additional basil if desired.
Looking for other fish recipes?
Pan Seared Halibut with Tomatoes
- Aluminum foil
- 4 halibut steaks
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin, divided
- 4 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 2 tablespoons shallots diced
- 2 tablespoons basil julienned
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1½ tablespoons capers drained, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat a skillet on medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the halibut with the salt. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes. Place on a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
- Return the skillet to heat and add the remaining olive oil and cherry tomatoes. Stir occasionally until the tomatoes start to burst open. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the butter, wine, capers, lemon juice and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally and cook for 10 to allow the sauce to thicken.
- Add the halibut back to the pan. Top with basil.
- Serve the halibut on top of the tomatoes with additional basil if desired.