Halibut is a mild, sweet-tasting whitefish with a firm but tender texture. Because the flavor is so gentle, halibut is a good canvas for bolder seasonings to build taste. In Pan-Fried Halibut with Black Beans and Cilantro-Chile Salsa, I pair the flavors of the spicy salsa with lean fish, fresh produce, and black beans. Pan-frying gives the fillet a crisp, golden crust. With its low fat content, halibut cooks so quickly you’ll be ready to serve this meal in the time it takes to set the table.
I was in Hawaii when I tasted my first fish taco. I had been surfing all morning and was seriously starving when I spotted a woman at a beachside cart tucking grilled mahi mahi into tortillas. That was the inspiration for the Grilled Halibut Pico de Gallo. When preparing the dish, use super-fresh fish, and don’t leave out the cabbage — it adds a nice crunch that accentuates the tenderness of the fillets. To relive the outdoor experience, I prefer to grill the fish to keep these tacos light and healthy, but you can also cook under a hot broiler or in a grill pan. If you have leftover salsa, pico de gallo is also great on scrambled eggs in the morning.
When buying fresh halibut, look for white, glossy flesh, and steer clear of cuts that look dull or dried out. I opt for wild-caught halibut that comes out of Alaskan waters; the season runs from April through October.
Pan-Fried Halibut with Black Beans and Cilantro-Chile Salsa
(Makes 4 servings)
For cilantro and chile salsa
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For black beans and halibut
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 6-ounce halibut fillets (each about 1 ½-inch thick)
To make cilantro and chile salsa: Stir oil, vinegar, cilantro, chiles, shallot, and garlic in medium bowl to combine. Season salsa to taste with salt.
To sauté black beans: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender.
Add all bell peppers and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until bell peppers soften. Add beans and wine.
Bring wine to gentle simmer and cook for about 3 minutes, or until beans are heated through and most of wine has reduced.
Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, to fry halibut: Place large sauté or frying pan over medium-high heat and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
Sprinkle both sides of halibut fillets with salt and pepper to taste.
Place fillets in hot pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until fillets are golden brown on bottom. Turn fillets over and cook for 3 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through but still moist and juicy.
Spoon beans onto center of 4 plates. Top with the halibut fillets. Spoon salsa atop halibut, drizzle salsa around beans, and serve.
- Calories: 294
- Total Fat: 15 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Sodium: 361 mg
- Carbohydrate: 20 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 14 g
- 1 starch
- 1.5 lean meat
- 1 vegetable
- 3 fat
Recipe adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2009 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted with permission of Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.
Grilled Halibut Tacos with Pico De Gallo
(Makes 4 servings)
Pico de Gallo
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 2 red jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh halibut fillets, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 limes, halved
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas
- 2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
- 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream (optional)
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
To make pico de gallo: In medium bowl, toss tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt together. Set aside at room temperature.
To make tacos: Prepare outdoor grill for medium-high cooking over direct heat.
In wide shallow bowl, whisk olive oil, cilantro, and garlic to blend. Lightly coat fish with oil mixture and season with salt and pepper. Oil cooking grate. Add fish and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until barely opaque when flaked in thickest part with tip of small knife. Using spatula, transfer fish to cutting board and let stand for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, grill limes cut-side down for about 3 minutes, or until they begin to char on bottom. Remove from grill. Add tortillas to grill and cook for about 1 minute, turning halfway through, until warmed.
Coarsely break or cut fish into large flaky chunks and divide among tortillas. Top with cabbage, pico de gallo, nonfat sour cream if desired, and sprinkle of cilantro leaves. Serve hot with grilled limes.
- Calories: 331
- Total Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Sodium: 616 mg
- Carbohydrate: 30 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 30 g
- 1 starch
- 4 lean meat
- 0.25 fruit
- 1 vegetable
- 1.5 fat
Recipe adapted from What’s For Dinner by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2015 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted with permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved,
Hungry for more? Get a taste of Curtis Stone’s Grilled Asparagus Salad with Herbed Dressing at saturdayeveningpost.com/asparagussalad.
This article is featured in the May/June 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Quentin Bacon
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