Pan-seared halibut served with a sweet and sour Meyer lemon gastrique. This restaurant quality dish is easily made at home with only a handful of ingredients. It looks and sounds rather fancy, but it’s actually fairly easy and it’s done in under 30 minutes.
Pan-Seared Halibut with Meyer Lemon Gastrique is sponsored by Sprout’s Farmers Market. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Pook’s Pantry. As always, all opinions, recipes and photos are my own.
Pan Seared Halibut
Halibut is a very mild tasting fish, so it appeals to almost everyone. It’s great for those who don’t like seafood that tastes too “fishy”. It’s also a fairly sturdy fish, so it holds up well to searing. This elegant meal looks much more difficult than it actually is. We don’t go out to dinner much, as you might imagine. When I want a special meal, more often than not, I end up cooking it myself. That’s just the way it is. This meal is a showstopper. It’s perfect for date night, for dinner parties or celebrating at home. Because halibut is so mild in flavor, it lends itself to many different sauces or flavorings. Seared halibut is quick and easy. It flakes apart in nice, big chunks, so it feels substantial. Paired with this gastrique, it’s a total win.
What is a “gastrique”?
A gastrique is caramelized sugar combined with vinegar or some type of acid, then reduced to make it slightly thickened. It sounds much fancier than it really is. The hardest part is melting the sugar and knowing when to pull it off of the heat. I compare it with a roux – the longer you let it cook, the deeper the color. Which means, the more intense the flavor will be. For this sauce, we don’t want it to be overpowering, because it is paired with a delicate fish. If we were pairing it with beef, we could let it get almost burnt.
Let’s Make a Gastrique, shall we?
Above is a quick video demonstrating the process. As you’ll see, it’s not all that difficult. The possibilities are endless for flavorings, so go be creative with it once you’ve mastered the technique.
Can I make the gastrique ahead of time?
In a word – yes. As a matter of fact, I have some in my fridge right now. All you’ll need to do is warm it up a bit. Because it is a caramel based sauce, it will firm up and be a little sticky. Normally, “sticky” isn’t a word I’d like to associate with a sauce, but in this particular case, it’s exactly what you want.
Sustainable Practices and Why It Matters
Sprout’s has a new sustainable seafood policy, which you can read about here. Why does this matter to me? For so very many reasons actually, but I’ll give you a few that are personal. First, they’ve made a commitment to source their seafood from responsible fisheries where the fish can be traced. This is quite important. Knowing that the fish came from ethical fisheries that don’t utilize illegal practices makes me feel better about what I’m buying.
The other reason is close to my heart. For those of you that follow along on social media with me, you know that I spent some time with family in Newfoundland this summer. Cod is king in Newfoundland. If you’re eating fish, odds are, it’s cod. However, due to decades of overfishing, there was a total collapse in the population in the late 80’s/early 90’s. That’s the simple way of putting it. It affected the island, it’s people, the fishermen, the native people, etc. This could have been avoided. The fact is that if we execute the best practices and focus on sustainability, it will be there for future generations.
What can I serve with this seared halibut?
- White Bean with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato
- Melting Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs
- Sauteed Broccolini with Citrus Vinaigrette
- Fingerling Potatoes with Shishito Peppers
- Pear, Gorgonzola and Pecan Salad
- Quinoa with Pistachios, Lemon and Mint
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- 12 ounce fresh halibut, 2 portions, 6 oz each
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice, sub regular lemon if Meyer lemons are unavailable
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 sprigs thyme, a few leaves reserved for garnish, if desired
- Zest of ½ lemon for garnish, if desired
- In a small non-stick pot over medium heat, add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp water. Stir to combine. Bring to a hard boil and let it cook for 6 - 8 minutes. Swirl the pan every couple of minutes to make sure all of the sugar is being incorporated. Check the color. The sugar should be a light amber color. (You just made caramel!)
- Add 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, all at once. Stand back from the pan while doing this, just in case it splashes. It will bubble rapidly when the liquid goes into the caramel. Stir well and let it cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes to reduce slightly.
- Add salt and thyme sprigs. Stir again and remove from heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Season fish with salt and pepper.
- Place fish gently in pan and cook for 4 minutes without disturbing. Flip fish and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 1 – 2 minutes. Drizzle gastrique on plate, or over fish, and serve.
If you are an advanced cook and comfortable with it, you can cook the fish while the caramel is boiling.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 321 Saturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 83mg Sodium: 1279mg Carbohydrates: 27g Sugar: 25g Protein: 31g