There’s nothing wrong with enjoying halibut steak seasoned with salt and pepper: It’s the truest way to enjoy halibut’s firm-yet-flaky texture and mild flavor profile. But when you’re feeling saucy or want to explore new tastes, it’s nice to know that you have plenty of options that are worth slathering on your halibut steaks.
Whether grilled, pan-seared, baked, or poached, a wild-caught halibut steak deserves a sauce that enhances its meaty qualities without overwhelming the nuances of this special catch. Here are 9 sauces, toppings and condiments that can do the trick.
Herby and Light
A classic condiment that brightens up steaks from both land and sea, an herbaceous chimichurri tops our list of toppings for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s ridiculously easy to make, made from a mix of parsley, cilantro, and oregano minced together and harmonized with the intense flavors of garlic and a good red wine vinegar. Use it as marinade or herb paste to coat and flavor your halibut steaks before baking them. Chimichurri also functions as condiment to serve along with the meal, so you can use it as a topping for pan-seared halibut steaks.
A bit warmer in flavor than a chimichurri is chermoula, another herb-based condiment that can be used in cooking and as a condiment upon serving. North African spices like cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika keep this green paste grounded, while parsley, cilantro, and sometimes mint bring a contrast of fresh flavor to the mix. Layer on the chermoula before baking your halibut, or save it to serve alongside a grilled or pan-seared steak as a mouthwatering accompaniment.
For a zesty topping to layer over grilled, seared, or baked halibut steaks, make a three-ingredient gremolata, an Italian condiment made of garlic, lemon zest, and parsley. Simple and satisfying.
Rich and Decadent
Brown Butter Sauce
Is brown butter sauce ever not a good idea? The caramelized, toasty notes of brown butter complement the golden crust on a perfectly pan-seared halibut steak, elevating this basic preparation of fish into something greater than the sum of its parts. Stick with a straightforward brown butter sauce, or expand your options by combining it with crusty bread crumbs and sage.
A velvety and rich classic, beurre blanc is for nights when you want to channel your inner Julia Child. While decadent, it has a straightforward profile that allows you to appreciate the mild, sweet flavor of halibut. Make enough to pour over your halibut steaks and any sides you’re making to go along with the fish.
A grilled halibut steak is especially nice when promptly topped with a pad of compound butter. There are really no limits here as to what flavors you can integrate into a butter. All you have to do is mix in herbs, aromatics, and maybe some lemon or lime juice into room temperature butter to create a flavored butter that’s customized to your tastes. Try this recipe from The Kitchn for an unexpected compound butter made with broiled tomatoes.
Spiced and Smothery
An easy tomato-based “veracruz” sauce is a little spicy, a little briny, and full-on smothery, perfect for a rainy day when you want to daydream about Mexico. Try adapting this recipe from Marcela Valladolid to use with your halibut steaks — just cut down the final step of baking to a minute or two for the flavors to meld. Or, if your steaks look like they’re already cooked through, simply coat them in the finished sauce and serve immediately.
Green Curry Coconut Sauce
A creamy coconut milk-based sauce, flavored with a Thai green curry paste like this one from Food & Wine, is full of nuance but easy to make. It’s great ladled over pan-seared halibut steaks and a bed of jasmine rice. As an alternative, try using the green curry sauce as a poaching liquid to cook the halibut steaks; all you have to do is turn the heat down to low after the sauce has reduced, slip in a halibut steak or two, cover with a lid, then gently poach the until flaky and tender — about 4 minutes.
Use this recipe from Alton Brown for the au poivre sauce, but adapt it to pan-seared halibut steaks by using green or pink peppercorns if you can get your hands on them; green and pink peppercorns are going to be a bit milder than black ones, which will allow the mildness of the halibut to come through. For the best flavor, sear your halibut steaks in ghee, then use that same pan and all the juices left behind to build the au poivre sauce.