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Alaska Halibut Caprese Dinner

February 15, 2020


Alaskan Halibut Caprese Dinner

Growing up on Cape Cod, I had an endless supply of Atlantic seafood. From lobster and crab to cod and striped bass, I've tried most if not all of the seafood the Atlantic Ocean has to offer. As a kid, my dad loved to fish. After spending all day on fishing charters, my dad would bring home seafood for us. I remember being chased in my back yard by crabs as a kid after my dad had gone crabbing. One recipe in particular that I remember from my dad was a Baja Sandwich he used to make. I vividly remember how much I liked the combination of fresh tomatoes and fish on a sandwich.


Since my dad was such a fisherman, I never had to learn how to navigate the seafood counter at the grocery store. After college and living on my own in my first apartment, I wanted to impress my then-boyfriend with a seafood dinner. Now my husband, my boyfriend at the time, was the chef in the relationship. For our third date, he made me a delicious shrimp scampi dinner at his house.

Preparing to cook my boyfriend a romantic seafood dinner for two proved to be a challenge for me. I probably spend a solid 15 minutes staring at the seafood counter before I asked anyone for help on making my selection. My boyfriend had made me shrimp. I wanted to try cooking fish. I finally mustered up the courage to approach the seafood counter and asked for help. 


I told the clerk about my plans for cooking dinner to impress my boyfriend and asked for her fish recommendations. As luck would have it, this seafood clerk was from the west coast. She asked if I had ever tried pacific seafood, and I surprisingly had not. I spent my whole life eating local Atlantic Seafood. 

She showed me a few options until she finally landed on halibut. The clerk explained to me that Halibut filets  have a slightly sweet taste with a firm texture. She also told me that halibut was a leaner fish than most and could overcook easily. Knowing my new boyfriend was a fitness buff, I thought this was a good selection of fish. I just had to be careful of not overcooking it. 


So, I bought four fillets of halibut and went home. 

I wanted to know more about halibut before settling on a recipe. 

What Kind of Fish is Halibut? 

Alaskan halibut is a mild, sweet-tasting fish with a somewhat firm texture and larger flake.

What Fish is similar to Halibut?

Like flounder, halibut is a flatfish. Halibut are quite large, averaging 30 lbs., but they are capable of growing to over 600lbs. 

What is the Difference between Halibut and Flounder?

In addition to their size, halibut have two different colored sides. The top of the halibut fish is dark brown, while the bottom is bright white with some pink. While males never exceed 50lbs, the females can grow to much larger sizes. 

Halibut mercury levels are low enough that it’s a safe choice for pregnant women.

You can Eat their Cheeks!

In addition to the filets, halibut cheeks are famous for their especially sweet flavor and scallop like texture. Halibut cheeks are best when cooked using similar cooking methods as sea scallops. Halibut does have bones, but not usually very many.

Cost of Halibut Per Pound

Halibut usually tops out around $25.00 per pound. The price can vary by season and whether buying fresh or frozen. If you’re lucky enough, you can find halibut for sale wholesale and stock your freezer!

Fresh or Frozen

Fresh halibut is available during two peek seasons. March-April (sometimes early May) and October-November. I was shopping in October, so I lucked out with fresh-caught halibut! 

Frozen halibut are available year-round. Frozen halibut filets tend to be even easier to dry out so it’s probably best to cook them right from frozen! 

Atlantic Halibut

Atlantic varieties of halibut do exist, but they are overfished, and you should avoid Atlantic halibut while the population rebuilds. 

The best and most sustainable variety of halibut is Alaskan Wild-Caught Halibut. 

How Do I Cook Halibut?

So, I knew enough about halibut to be comfortable and even a little thankful that the seafood clerk recommended halibut to impress my boyfriend. She also suggested halibut was forgiving enough for many types of recipes, so long as I don't overcook the fish. You can cook halibut with the skin on or the skin off.  When grilling, the skin can protect the tender meat from burning.

Typically, you should cook halibut to an internal temperature of 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Best Way to Make Halibut








I had to decide how I wanted to cook my halibut for my boyfriend. I wondered, can you grill halibut? I looked up grilled halibut fillet recipes but since the weather was turning cooler, I decided against grilling. I made a mental note to remember how to grill halibut filets for the summer months. I even found the best grilled halibut recipe ever using mango salsa! Who needs a sauce for grilled halibut when you can use mango salsa! I bookmarked an easy grilled halibut recipe but for this meal, I knew I wanted to cook my halibut different.

I knew I wanted to bake my halibut with other flavors and possibly juices or broth to maintain the moisture in the fish. Remember how my dad used to use fresh tomatoes on his fish sandwiches.

I wanted more than easy fish tacos. Fish tacos can mask the flavor of fishy fish, and the ingredients can overpower the simple elegance of a fish fillet dinner. Don't get me wrong, fish tacos have their place in my repertoire, but not for this dinner. Halibut bits and pieces are perfect for fish tacos. I had big beautiful fresh Alaskan halibut fillets, so I chose to go in another direction. 

Halibut Caprese

During my internet search for halibut recipes, I stumbled upon several different variations of halibut caprese. I loved the idea of the acidity of the vinegar and the tomato to accompany the tender sweetness of the halibut filets. The warm fresh mozzarella could help me lock in the moisture and keep my filets from drying out in the oven. With a few personal twists, I felt that I had found the perfect recipe to impress my new boyfriend. I credit my halibut caprese recipe in part for securing him as my future husband. After all, seafood is an aphrodisiac. 

Halibut Caprese Ingredients: 

  • 4 Alaskan Halibut Fillets (4oz portions each)
  • 8 oz of fresh sliced mozzarella.
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced. 
  • Bunch of fresh large basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of high-quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/3 cup additional chopped fresh basil. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

*If you halibut filets are frozen, they can be thawed overnight. You can cook the halibut from frozen.  Be sure to rinse off any ice crystals. For frozen halibut filets, add a few minutes to the cooking time and be sure the internal temperature comes to 125-130 degrees. *

Steps to Making Halibut Caprese

  • Pre-heat your oven to broil at 425-degrees the ideal temp to cook halibut
  • Stir together two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside. 
  • Prepare a baking sheet with EVOO.
  • Rinse and pat dry your fresh or frozen halibut filets. 
  • Salt and pepper both sides of your halibut filets. 
  • Place halibut fillets on prepared baking sheet and place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until slightly browned. 
  • Turn fillets over and broil for another 2 minutes. 
  • Remove pan from the oven and place two slices of mozzarella, several basil leaves, and two-three slices of tomato on each filet. 
  • Place pan back in the oven and broil for another two minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Observe, so the cheese does not burn. 
  • Drizzle Olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture over the fish fillets. 
  • Garnish plates with fresh chopped basil. 
  • Serve Immediately. 

This dish is super easy to make and serves up quickly. My boyfriend and I had time to chat over a glass of perfectly paired Sauvignon Blanc (the best wine with halibut) while I prepared this fresh and delicious meal for him. 

One 4oz portion of halibut has only 124 calories in grilled halibut and 23 grams of protein. This is a great choice for people looking for lean proteins that still taste amazing.

As I searched for what goes with halibut to round out my meal, I discovered that a great side dish for halibut would be a light rice or couscous or even a simple salad!

This meal was so delicious that we have made it together several times. Now that we are married, we have even made this for our kids! 

Would you ever think to combine Caprese with warm fish? If not, you should try this recipe! 

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