Celebrate the Best Time to Buy Fresh, Wild-Caught Halibut Online with Quick, Homemade Sauces

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Baked halibut presents a blank canvas for everyone to flavor with the sauce of their choice. Image source: Flickr CC user Chelsea Nesvig

After what seemed like a long winter, halibut season is finally here. I like to celebrate the first catch every year by inviting my extended family over for a halibut bake. Cooking for family is so rewarding, but sometimes, as we all know, it can be challenging to make something that everyone likes.

Lucky for me, my whole family loves halibut. But they all have different preferences when it comes to the flavors they like with it. My sister’s kids tend to like a little sweetness in their sauce, my mom prefers it fresh and lemony, and my fiance’s parents love the combination of halibut with Asian-inspired flavors. To please everyone, I prepare the fish super simply and then make three different easy, no-cook sauces for everyone to choose from. That way, we each get to choose the flavors that taste best to us.

Cooking Halibut for a Crowd

When cooking halibut for a crowd (like my big family), I always opt for the easiest cooking method—baking. This way I’m not having to haul out a bunch of pans, cook pieces individually, and keep one batch of cooked fish warm while I finish with the rest. Instead, I can just toss all the halibut in a big baking dish (or two) and pop it all in the oven at the same time (being sure to set a timer!). When I’m cooking for a crowd like this, I buy the freshest halibut I can find, pre-cut into nice six-ounce pieces, so that all the portioning is done for me, and I can spend more time visiting with my family.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about halibut from years of cooking, it is that it can go from undercooked to overcooked very quickly. Since it is such a lean fish, halibut gets quite dry when it is overcooked—and nobody likes dry fish. I find that it helps to brush each piece of halibut with melted butter or olive oil before baking to lend some moisture while it bakes.

Here’s the recipe I use every year to celebrate the start of halibut season.

Simple Baked Halibut Fillets

Preheat your oven to 400⁰F. Grease the bottom of a baking pan (I use a cookie sheet), with oil or butter. Sprinkle both sides of the halibut with salt, and arrange on the pan.

Brush the top of each filet with butter or oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes, brushing with oil halfway through cooking, if desired. You can test doneness by pressing with your finger in the thickest part of the fish. If your finger leaves an indent and the fish feels squishy, it needs more time, but if it feels firm and the fish looks opaque, it’s done. A more exact way to tell if the halibut is done is by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fish—it should read 145⁰F.

No-Cook Sauces for Baked Halibut

Vinaigrettes are my go-to when I make halibut for a crowd because they are so versatile and can be made days in advance. What’s more, you can serve them at room temperature, which means you don’t have to fuss with heating them up.

As you may know, vinaigrette at its most basic is an emulsion of olive oil and an acid (like citrus juice or vinegar), in a 3:1 ratio. But before you start thinking that vinaigrettes are only for salads, hear me out. They are the perfect combination of tart and rich, and since halibut is so lean, oil-based sauces complement it extremely well.

Because it is so mild, halibut pairs well with an array of flavors.Tart lemon, fresh herbs, and salty capers highlight both the delicate and briny notes in the fish. Pungent ginger, savory soy, and nutty sesame lend deep umami flavor, balancing the inherent sweetness of halibut. Punchy orange, sweet maple, and sharp mustard prove halibut’s meatiness and strength in standing up to bright, bold flavors. All of these flavors accentuate different qualities of this delicious fish, demonstrating its true versatility.

Lemon Caper Herb Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until emulsified.

Soy-Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or any other neutral-flavored oil)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until emulsified.

Orange Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until emulsified.

Delicious Vinaigrettes Call for the Freshest Wild-Caught Halibut

I love to see my family crowded around my kitchen table, helping themselves to baked halibut and trying to decide which vinaigrette to pick. It’s such nice annual tradition to get together each spring over a delicious meal, and it always makes me realize how precious family time is. Daily Fresh Fish helps give you more time with family by delivering fresh, sustainable, hand-cut fish to your home so that you can spend more time with the people who matter most to you. Fish from Daily Fresh Fish comes straight from the dock to your door, so it’s fresher than the supermarket and perfect for a celebration.