The Best Side Dishes for Halibut

What are the best side dishes with halibut? This big fish — the largest flatfish in the ocean, growing as long as nine feet — is popular for its sweet, mild flavor and lean, flaky white flesh. It goes well alongside colorful vegetables, crunchy salads, and with carb dishes such as rice, orzo, and couscous. Halibut is often served with bold flavors such as lemon or other citrus, Asian seasonings, and butter with garlic or green herbs. 

Roasted Vegetables

Chop a selection of vegetables into chunks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, fresh garlic, dried thyme, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Spread on a greased baking sheet and roast at 425°F for approximately 15 minutes. Hard vegetables require more cooking time, so you can cook them first and add tender vegetables part way through the process. 

Spring Pesto Roasted Tomatoes

Slice large tomatoes in half crosswise, remove seeds, and drizzle with olive oil. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes, then add pesto sauce followed by breadcrumbs. Bake at 400°F for approximately 20 minutes, covering with foil if breadcrumbs brown too quickly. 
For the pesto sauce, blender basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

Buttery Sautéed Green Beans

Pre-boil fresh green beans for three minutes in salted water, then immerse in an ice bath to preserve the bright green color. Sauté in unsalted butter and olive oil, moving them in the pan to coat them. After about a minute, add garlic, salt, and pepper, cooking for another minute. Add other herbs if desired. Before cooking green beans, other vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, or mushrooms can be sautéed first. Squeeze on fresh lemon juice before serving. 

Artichoke Hearts in a White Wine Garlic Butter Sauce

Don’t be afraid of artichokes! You can buy them canned or you can savor the enjoyment of preparing them yourself. Trim off the top third of each artichoke, then rub a cut lemon along each slice to prevent browning. Remove the thorny tips of any leaves as well as any discolored leaves. With a vegetable peeler, remove the stems’ bitter outer layer. Halve each artichoke vertically through the stem, then repeat to make quarters. Discard the fuzzy choke but not the heart beneath it. Steam, pressure cook, or slow cook. 

Heat olive oil in a pan, adding garlic but not allowing it to brown. Add white wine, and then lemon juice, whisking in pats of butter, then salt and pepper. Gently fold in artichoke hearts to heat. On a serving platter garnish with parsley and green onions. 

Sautéed Mushrooms and Spinach with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Sauté sesame seeds over medium-low heat until toasted. Crush, then whisk together with garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Next, cook mushrooms in olive oil for about six minutes until golden brown. Add fresh spinach, pour in the sauce, and cook five more minutes. Fabulous!

Pickled Beets and Carrots

Lay baby carrots and baby beets on aluminium foil, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and fold to create a sealed pouch to roast at 400°F for half an hour. To make the pickling liquid, boil white vinegar, salt, and sugar together, then allow it to cool. Add the beets and carrots and allow to marinate for two hours. 

Cilantro Lime Slaw

To shredded cabbage, red onion, and cilantro, add a blend of olive oil, lime juice, honey, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. This makes a great topper for fish tacos, too! 

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Peel cucumbers if desired and slice or chop. Add tomatoes and thinly sliced red onions. Toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice such as dill and parsley or oregano and basil for a Mediterranean influence. 

Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad

Peel membrane from navel orange segments, halve, and place in bowl. Add thinly sliced fennel quarters after removing the core. Add slivered red onions or chopped green onions and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives. Drizzle a dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and mint.

Celery Root and Apple Salad

Peel celery root and green apple, then cut into thin matchsticks. Place in bowl with pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios. Toss with a dressing made with whisked olive oil, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Shallots, and Fresh Herbs

This is another classic dish that goes with almost everything. Slice larger fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and place in a large straight-sided sauté pan. Add sliced shallot, garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, and dried bay leaves. Toss with olive oil to coat ingredients, then add chicken stock, pepper, and a small amount of salt. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes, turning once halfway through. Uncover, increase heat, and allow ingredients to sizzle as braising liquid cooks away. Remove, discard bay leaves, and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

Indian Lemon Rice

Prepare tempering oil by lightly crushing coriander seeds and cardamom pods with mortar and pestle. Sauté finely sliced scallions and red chili in ghee or mild cooking oil on medium-high heat until onions are almost transparent. Reduce heat and add coriander seeds, cardamom pods, mustard seeds, and whole cloves. When the mixture is fragrant, add curry leaves and cook until wilted. Remove from heat, then add sugar and salt.

Prepare the rice by dissolving turmeric, salt, and sugar in lemon juice, and then add cooked basmati or jasmine rice. Combine gently without crushing rice grains. Taste-test to ensure that the lemon doesn’t overpower the salt. Gently fold in tempering oil mixture. 

Spread ghee on the bottom of a baking dish, then press down some of the rice to create a delicious ghee crust. Add the remaining rice and bake on the bottom oven rack at 375°F for 25 minutes.

Sauteed Corn with Fresh Tarragon and Shiitake Mushrooms

Corn like you’ve never had it! Melt a good quality butter such as Kerrygold in a pan, then add fresh corn cut from cobs, sliced shiitake mushrooms, and fresh chopped tarragon. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is a light golden.

Baked Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes

Boil orzo in salted water until al dente, then drain. Briefly sauté minced garlic in olive oil, then add orzo, baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir, cover, and let stand so spinach can wilt. Top with baked halibut fillets and drizzle with dressing made from whisked olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Best Wine Pairings

Halibut has been called “the Chardonnay of the fish family,” referring to its natural sweetness and full body that enhance other aromas and tastes. It pairs nicely with whites like Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, and Chenin Blanc because they share citrusy, fruity, herbal notes, as well as refreshing acidity.

Pinot Noir is commonly paired with halibut and other fish because of its light to medium body, dryness, and rich cherry-berry aroma with underlying earthiness redolent of mushrooms. Grenache is a good pairing for similar reasons. Lighter reds such as rosé are always appropriate. 

For the most pleasant finish, tannins and oakiness are better avoided. 

Best Sauces

Because halibut meat is lean, preparation methods and sauces are used to preserve and enhance moisture. Cooking with seasoned butter, olive oil, soy sauce, tomato sauce, or lemon or other citrus-based sauces will prevent it from drying out. A simple yet elegant sauce can be quickly made with broth, lemon juice, Chardonnay, garlic, and parsley. Serving halibut in sauce with a flavorful side dish accompanied by crusty bread will please the most choosy palate. 

Browned Butter Sauce

Mix butter with fresh minced garlic and cook over medium heat for 5-8 minutes until browned, skimming off foam as needed. Add fresh snipped herbs such as sage, flat-leaf parsley, basil, oregano, or chives. If desired, add crusty bread crumbs or shredded cheese such as Pecorino Romano, Asiago, and/or Parmesan.

Turkish-Spiced Marinade and Yogurt Sauce for Skewered Halibut

In a mixing bowl, stir together cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, lemon, minced garlic, bay leaves, and olive oil. Pour over salted and peppered fish chunks and marinate for an hour. While skewered fish is cooking, mix yogurt with salt, pepper, garlic paste, cayenne, cucumber, mint, dill, and parsley. Sprinkle some mint, dill, and parsley on the cooked fish, and serve the herbed yogurt on the side. 

Argentine Chimichurri (Salsa Verde)

Finely chop tender herbs such as parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, or dill, whatever is available, but avoid strongly flavored herbs like rosemary or sage. Although you’ll mix in garlic, shallot, chile, kosher salt, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, letting it sit first for several minutes will enable the vinegar to soften the sharpness. Chimichurri is best when fresh but can be used anytime, anywhere, on anything. Might you even substitute it for pesto?