Sicilian-style braised halibut recipe


For an elegant Sicilian-inspired dinner, we developed a recipe for braised halibut in a vibrant, dynamic sauce. Although easy to prepare, this dish requires carefully balancing all of the sweet, sour, and salty flavors. First, we worked on creating a fragrant and flavorful braising liquid. We started with onion, garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes, which brought the flavors into focus. We simmered these aromatics with white wine, whole peeled tomatoes, and clam juice, which gave the sauce a pleasant brininess. The addition of golden raisins and capers added sweet and tangy pops of flavor, while a sprinkling of mint added another layer of complexity and herbal depth. Orange zest and coriander offered citrusy notes, while pine nuts provided nice textural contrast. We chose halibut, a hearty yet tender and flaky white fish, because it stood up to the bold flavors of the braise. Best of all, making this dish ahead was as simple as putting the sauce together in advance and then poaching the fish the day we wanted to eat it. Cod, sea bass, and red snapper are good substitutes for the halibut. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ⅛ teaspoon dried
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 4 (6-to 8-ounce) skinless halibut fillets, 1 to 1¼ inches thick
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
How to Make It
  1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in reserved tomato juice and wine, bring to boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, clam juice, raisins, and capers and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer until thickened slightly and flavors meld, about 15 minutes.
  3. Pat fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle with coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir orange zest into sauce, then nestle fish into skillet. Return to gentle simmer, cover, and cook until exterior of fish is opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip fish, remove skillet from heat, and let sit covered until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and registers 140 degrees, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual portions with pine nuts and mint.

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