A Recipe, Just For the Halibut

by Wayne Johnson, Executive Chef

pan-seared-halibutIt’s that wonderful time I wait for every year when we get that first run of halibut. The halibut is the largest flatfish in the ocean and usually averages about 25 pounds. The fish is actually born like normal fish with one eye on either side of its head then somewhere around six months one eye migrates to the other side of the head.

The eyes are on the dark side of the halibut, which is the top side that helps to disguise the fish from above so it will blend into the ocean floor. The bottom of the fish remains white, so when looking from the ocean floor up to the sky, it helps blend into the light.

But enough about this great big beautiful fish that is at the top of its food chain while in its habitat. Instead let’s talk about how once we get this great tasting versatile fish, we chefs are found doing all kinds of delicious applications with it! We bake, broil, sauté, steam and grill. Heck, I’ve even seen it turned into sushi. I think the reason that we are able to do so much with the fish is that it is a mild, sweet tasting white flesh.

The one thing to note is that because halibut is so lean, good for those watching their fat intake, it will become dried out if over-cooked. Being the first run on halibut and the price being a little costly we really do not want to overcook it.

For the preparation in the Café, I put the halibut in a little herb blend, lightly sauté it and serve it up with a sweet-pea risotto cake, wilted pea vines and a squeeze of lemon vinaigrette. Here’s the recipe for you to try at home – Bon Appétit!



  • 4 – 6 oz Halibut fillets
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 8 oz pea vines

For risotto cakes:

  • 1 pound risotto
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tsp arrowroot
  • 2 tsp cool water

For vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp shallots, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt

For risotto Cake:

In a large frying pan, add oil and sauté the onions until translucent, about two minutes. Add the rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. Then deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and stirring until it is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup water to the rice and stir until it’s absorbed. Continue to add water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously over medium heat, until liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove pan from heat and stir in the peas. In a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking together the arrowroot and cold water. Add the slurry to risotto and mix well for about 30 seconds, allowing sauce to thicken. To portion risotto cakes, scoop about 1/2 cup of the mixture (ice cream scoop works well) and place on sheet pan with parchment paper, then flatten slightly into a small cake. Set aside until ready to sauté and plate with halibut.

For Halibut:

Chop thyme, sage and parsley together and pat on both sides of the halibut fillets and season with salt and pepper. In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Place halibut in frying pan and cook 3-4 minutes, flip to other side and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the halibut is cooked through. The fish should start to flake when gently pressed with a fork.

For Lemon Vinaigrette:

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in the blender and mix on high until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil to blender slowly until vinaigrette has emulsified (come together) and season with salt and pepper.

For Presentation:

Place sautéed risotto cake in center of plate, and place halibut fillet on top. Place 2 oz pea vines on top of halibut, and spoon 2 tbsp vinaigrette around plate and over halibut.


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