Halibut is one of my favorite fish, as the flavor is fairly mild, the texture nice and firm, and its ability to compliment other foods is exceptional.  I really love the light, clean taste of the fish and use it as a platform for other flavors.  Here, in this recipe, I crust the fish with black sesame seeds which not only provide a great nutty flavor, but all a crispy texture, not unlike nice fried skin.  Then for a sweeter element, I've made a fresh mango salsa, that also pairs really well with the fish.  The combination of the black sesame, the yellow mango and white fish, give a stunning look and a very cool visual presentation.  This  a a great healthy, light, spring or summer recipe.


Ingredients for The Crusted Halibut (for 2)

  • 2 8oz to 10oz Halibut Filets
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of black sesame seeds
  • Lemon (for juice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Fresh mango salsa

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

What’s makes this dish is really the combination of flavors and textures.  Think of the halibut as the “platform” upon which everything else is built.  Of course it has it’s own flavor and texture, but being a single ingredient, that flavor and texture is “one note”.  So…we build on the platform.  The sesame seed crust adds a nutty rich flavor to the fish, and because we sear them, a crunchy texture.  The mango salsa, brings sweet (from the mango), savory (from the herbs and onion), and tangy (from the lime juice) flavors, and different crunchy and soft textures.  While each specific ingredient has its own uniqueness, swapping out ingredients (breadcrumbs for sesame seeds, or pineapple for mango for instance) can still get you to a very similar dish.  Watch out for these few things:

  1. Don’t overcook the fish.  Remember the thinner the filet, the faster the cooking time.  Use very high heat and a hot pan; let the halibut sear – don’t fiddle with it in the pan.  The edges will start turning opaque with it’s time to flip it over; and then cook until the center is just barely cooked through
  2. Cook the sesame crusted side of the fish first – presentation side down first is the general rule.  This will help ensure the crust sticks, and give you a better looking finished product
  3. I think you only need to crust one side of the fish; both sides would overwhelm the fish

Making Sesame Crusted Halibut with Mango Salsa

  • First make the mango salsa, recipe here
  • Clean and trim the halibut filets of any skin or blood line (dark spots)
  • Season the filets with salt and pepper
  • Spread your black sesame seeds thinly out on a plate
  • Lay the halibut down on the sesame seeds and gently press down, coating that side of the filet
  • Heat a sauté pan over high heat until it is lightly smoking
  • Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, and gently lay down the filets, crust side down
  • You should hear a loud sizzle, if you don’t, remove the fish and allow the pan to get hotter
  • Don’t move or flip the filets for at least 2 – 3 minutes, so that crust can sear and set
  • Once the sides of the fish have started to turn opaque (white), it is time to flip the fish
  • Use a spatula to gently lift the fish up, use your free hand to hold the top of the fish, and gently turn it over in the pan to sear the other side
  • Again, you don’t need to move the fish, shake the pan, or play with the fish
  • After another 3 – 4 minutes the fish should be cooked, you can use a paring knife to open a small slit and check the interior, which you want just barely cooked
  • Remove the fish from the sauté pan
  • If you’d like you can turn off the heat and deglaze the pan with a bit of lemon juice, and then the butter and parsley to create just a tiniest sauce to spoon over the fish
  • To serve, put some of your mango salsa down on the plate, and serve the cooked fish, crust side up, on top of the salsa for a dramatic and very cool looking presentation        

I think this makes a great main course or appetizer.  The combination of flavors and textures make a great combination, and of course, even with all that great flavor, it’s really a pretty healthy dish.  Hope you enjoy and leave me a comment to let me know how it goes.

Total Time: 
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Main Ingredient: