This recipe for Pan Seared Halibut with a Butter Dill sauce is a perfect way to serve this delicious fish, whether you are a gourmet cook or still finding your way around the kitchen.
The sauce is mild but very flavorful and is made before the fish is cooked to make sure that the whole recipe is easy to prepare but turns out well every time. In order to keep the calories down for this dish, I used just a little of the sauce under the halibut and steamed veggies.
I find that, often, less in more when you are trying to keep an eye on your health.
My daughter and I watched one of our favorite movies – Julie & Julia – over the Christmas break. Watching Julie cook her way through the Julia Child cookbook gave me the inspiration for this delicious halibut recipe with a French inspired dill sauce.
I used wild caught halibut for this recipe. It has a sweet, delicate flavor and the fish itself has a very firm but still flaky texture. I have never been much of a white fish fan in the past, but this amazing halibut changed my mind. It was just amazing!!
It’s time to cook the Pan Seared Halibut in a Butter Dill Sauce.
One of the things that I like best about this recipe (other than the amazing flavor) is the limited number of ingredients that it takes. Fresh dill, lemon zest, butter, white wine and shallots, plus salt and pepper are all that is needed for the sauce.
The fish has such a wonderful flavor that all it needs is a bit of coconut oil to give it a good sear.
I like to use shallots in this recipe to give just a milk onion flavor. (See my tips for choosing, storing, using and growing shallots here.)
If you don’t have shallots on hand, see this post for some shallot substitutes to get a similar flavor.
You’ll need these ingredients to make the fish:
- Wild caught halibut
- Pink sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
- Coconut oil
and these for the dill sauce:
- Good quality dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
- Minced shallots
- Unsalted butter, cubed
- Fresh dill, minced
- Lemon zest
Making the sauce:
I love that the sauce is prepared before the fish. There is no timing to worry about. You can make one part of the recipe first, and then concentrate on the second part.
This makes the recipe a perfect one to serve for company that you would like to impress, since it is pretty much fool proof and yet so elegant.
I started by mincing my shallots and adding them to a pan with some white wine. I chose shallots because they are sweeter and a bit more pungent than onions.
I didn’t want to add garlic to this dish, so using shallots gives the recipe a greater depth of flavor while still maintaining the onion flavor.
If you can’t find them, you could use onions, but the flavor just won’t be quite the same. The wine and shallots cook for about 10 minutes to reduce the amount of liquid and then the butter is added.
Be sure to use unsalted butter for a very mild sauce. I’m sure that Julia Child would have added a pound of butter to the sauce, but I decided that four tablespoons was plenty (and I had some sauce left over!)
The next step for the sauce for this Pan Seared Halibut recipe is to stir in the fresh dill and lemon zest and to season the sauce with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Go lightly on the salt.
You want to add to the flavor of the halibut but also let it be the star of the dish! This amazing sauce will be used on the base of your plate and it will be layered with some steamed veggies and then the halibut.
Once the sauce is made, just keep it on a burner on the lowest setting while the halibut cooks. Too much heat will make the sauce separate. I just placed my pan on a new burner and turned it to low.
The halibut is lightly seasoned and then pan seared in coconut oil. I love to cook fish in coconut oil since it is high in NATURAL saturated fats.
This type of fat increases the healthy cholesterol level in your body and also help to convert the “bad” cholesterol levels to good ones. A win win for any heart healthy conscious cook.
An added benefit is that the subtle flavor of coconut gets added to the recipe. Just heat the oil first and then sear one side, flip and the other and the fish is done in about 6-7 minutes!
Add a small amount of the butter dill sauce to your plate, layer some steamed veggies (I used asparagus and carrot chips) and then layer the pan seared halibut on the top.
The fresh dill adds a lovely aromatic flavor to the sauce.
The Pan Seared Halibut is full of flavor and so flaky. The pure white flesh makes a lovely contrast to the beautifully seared outside of the fish.
Each layer of the dish adds to the flavor of the recipe and the whole thing together?? Perfection on a plate!!
Note: since I wanted to keep this pan seared halibut on the lighter side, I only used a couple of tablespoons of the sauce on the base of my dish, so there was sauce left over.
If you are looking for a more decadent meal, you could also add the sauce to the top of the fish. This is not necessary though. The fish is beautiful on its own, and a little of the sauce is just fine and adds lots of flavor with not too many extra calories.
Sometimes a little of the real thing (butter) goes a long way! Perfect for those New Year’s resolutions!
Once you have had a bite of this amazing halibut you will wonder why you have not been eating it every week! Look at how beautifully it flakes!
The classic flavors of the sauce pair beautifully and makes the recipe one that any lover of French cooking will really appreciate.
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For the halibut:
- 1 12 oz package of wild caught halibut
- Pink sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
For the Dill Sauce:
- 3/4 cup of good quality dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
- 1/3 cup of minced shallots
- 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 tbsp of fresh dill, minced
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- For the steamed vegetables:
- 16 asparagus spears
- 20 carrot chips
- Remove the fish from the fridge so that it comes to room temperature.
- In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and add the minced shallots.
- Add the white wine and cook over a medium high heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced.
- Turn the heat to the lowest setting, and gradually add the butter cubes, whisking well until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Stir in the lemon zest and minced fresh dell. Keep on the lowest setting while you prepare the fish.
- Season the fish lightly with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
- Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan until the oil starts to shimmer and the pan is very hot.
- Add the halibut pieces, serving side down.
- Press lightly with a spatula so that the fish will make good contact with the pan to create the perfectly seared finish.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook about 4 minutes, then flip and continue cooking for another 2-4 minutes until done.
- Steam the asparagus and carrot chips in the microwave for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.
- Remove the halibut, and blot lightly with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
- Place a couple of tablespoons of the sauce on a serving plate.
- Layer with half of the steamed vegetables and place one of the halibut portions over the veggies. Repeat for the other piece of fish.
- Serve immediately.
Note: since I wanted to keep this dish on the light side, I only used a couple of tablespoons of the sauce on the base of my dish, so there was sauce left over. If you are looking for a more decadent meal, you could also add the sauce to the top. This is not necessary though, a little of the sauce is just fine and adds lots of flavor with not too many extra calories. Perfect for those New Year's resolutions!