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Halibut in a Saffron Brine with an Italian Salsa Verde


Saffron halibut with an Italian salsa verde

Saffron halibut with an Italian salsa verde

Holly Heyser
This recipe is a play on color: Halibut steaks brined with saffron and served atop an Italian salsa verde. It requires some significant prep time, but most of it is spent with the fish brining in the fridge. The bright yellow of the saffron with the green sauce makes this a perfect spring halibut recipe.

Prep Time: 5 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes


  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T cracked white pepper
  • A healthy pinch of saffron, crushed
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 lb halibut steaks
  • 1 T good-quality mustard
  • 2 T tiny capers
  • 2 finely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, at least 1/2 cup
  • 2 T lower-quality olive oil for sauteeing the fish


Make the Brine. Mix the 1/4 cup of salt, quart of water, sugar, cracked white pepper and the bay leaves in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the crushed saffron. Mix well and cover. Let this stand for 30 minutes.

Once the brine has cooled somewhat, put it into a container and pop it in the fridge for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours are up, put the halibut steaks in. Brine them for 2 and a half hours. Do not let them brine for more than 4 hours under any circumstances -- they will become too salty.

Make the Salsa Verde. In a bowl, mix the mustard, capers, green onion, a little salt, parsley and lemon juice well. Start adding the good olive oil a little at a time, mixing vigorously all the way. Keep addit the oil until you have a sauce at the consistency you like: I like it somewhere beyond a paste but not so thin as a salad dressing.

Cook the Halibut. Get a saute pan hot and add the lesser olive oil. Take the halibut steaks out of the brine and pat dry. Let the oil get hot for a minute or two, then place the halibut down in the pan, well spaced so they get a good crust. Turn the heat down to medium.

Halibut steaks tend to be thick, so let them cook for a good 5 minutes per side at least; you may need more. Turn them only once.

To serve, spoon some of the salsa verde on the plate and top with the halibut. I like to serve this with those pretty little purple potatoes that are rapidly becoming available -- it makes for a very colorful plate. Serve with a round white wine like an oaky chardonnay or an off-dry Riesling.

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Italian Salsa Verde

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