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Butter-Basted Halibut Steaks with Capers

Butter-Basted Halibut Steaks with Capers

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Get the pan smoking hot so the halibut won’t stick. Let it get a good sear on the first side, which will also help it release.


  • 2 14–16-oz. bone-in halibut steaks (1”–1¼” thick)
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers

Recipe Preparation

Also Try it With:

  • Arctic char, monkfish, or salmon steaks


  • Season halibut with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Cook halibut until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Turn and cook until other side of fish is golden brown, about 4 minutes longer.

  • Add butter, thyme sprigs, and garlic to pan and cook, tilting pan and spooning butter over fish, until halibut is opaque throughout and butter is brown, about 2 minutes. Add capers; toss in butter to warm through.

  • Divide halibut among plates and spoon butter sauce over.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 400 Fat (g) 23 Saturated Fat (g) 9 Cholesterol (mg) 100 Carbohydrates (g) 1 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 0 Protein (g) 45 Sodium (mg) 550Reviews Section

Butter Basted Fish With Garlic and Thyme

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 2

Ingredients US Metric

  • Two (6 to 8 ounce) skinless firm white fish fillets*, such as cod, halibut, black sea bass, haddock, or hake, 1 inch (25 mm) thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Pat all sides of fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper.

In a 12-inch (30-cm) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil until hot but not smoking.

Reduce heat to medium and place fish skinned side down in the skillet. Using a fish spatula, gently press on each fillet for 5 seconds to ensure good contact with a skillet. Cook the fish, without moving it, until the underside is light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Using 2 spatulas, gently flip fillets and cook for 1 minute more.

Scatter the butter around the fish. When the butter is melted, tilt skillet slightly toward you so that butter pools at front of skillet. Using large spoon, scoop up melted butter and pour over the fish repeatedly for 15 seconds. Place skillet flat on burner and continue to cook 30 seconds more. Tilt skillet and baste for 15 seconds.

Place the skillet flat on burner and take temperature of thickest part of each fillet. Continue to alternate basting and cooking until fillets reach 130°F (54°C), about 2 minutes more.

Add garlic and thyme sprigs to skillet at the 12 o’clock position (butter may spatter). When spattering has subsided, continue basting and cooking until fillets reach 135°F (57°C) at the thickest point.

Transfer fish fillets to individual plates. Discard garlic. Top each fillet with thyme sprigs, drizzle with the butter in the skillet, and serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Versatility and simplicity are the hallmarks of this cooking technique. And once you've mastered the method, you can cook anything from scallops to pork chops. Change out the herbs to change up the flavor. Add a squeeze of orange or lime in place of lemon, depending on your protein. The possibilities of deliciousness are endless.

My cod fillets were 6-oz each. They took 4 minutes on the first side, and then another 4 on the second with three bastes. I turned off the heat and let them rest an additional 4 minutes because they were really thick. This makes 2 servings—we had the butter basted fish with garlic and thyme with orzo with lemon and capers on the side.

This is a great recipe for a weeknight. From start to finish it takes fewer than 15 minutes for this delicious cod dish. This is a simple preparation with a big reward. The combination of butter, garlic, and thyme are delicious on an otherwise bland fish. I always think of cod as a fish waiting to happen. It needs help and simple as this may be, it is just the help it needs to make it very tasty. The recipe calls for the cod to cook to 135°F. This is the perfect temperature where the fish is done all the way through, but still has plenty of moisture in it. I served the butter basted fish with garlic and thyme with a large salad.

What an easy and elegant dinner! Butter-basting is something I had only seen done on TV, so it was interesting to actually do it myself. It was a breeze, and the internal temperatures were a good guide as to when to take the fish off the heat. The cooking time was spot-on: 5 minutes on the first side and almost 4 minutes on the second side. The finished butter basted fish with garlic and thyme was plump and succulent, and it was absolutely lovely with the butter, which had become nuttier and richer as it cooked. I served the fish with steamed fingerling potatoes and broccoli, both of which paired well with the extra butter sauce on the plate.

I heated the oil to near smoking stage. Once I put the dry fillets in the pan, they sizzled immediately. I tried turning them at 4 and 5 minutes. Both times, the fish was stuck (I used a non-stick pan). I didn’t want to go past 5 minutes because I felt the fish would over cook during the basting process. Unfortunately, when I did flip it, I lost the crust in the bottom of the pan.

Once flipped, I added the butter and once melted, I started basting the fish. I basted 2 times for 15 seconds prior to adding 2 cloves of garlic and the thyme. My garlic did not spatter at all. I continued to baste 15 seconds off the burner for an additional 6 minutes. I did not keep basting for 8-10 minutes as the temperature on the fish would have been over cooked.

This recipe made 2 servings. I did cut off the thinner pieces of cod because I was concerned that the fish would cook unevenly. I tasted the butter basted fish with garlic and thyme and it definitely needed lemon when finished. I would suggest adding it to the butter sauce while the pan is still hot and prior to drizzling the sauce over the fish.

I eat a lot of fish so I’m definitely adding this to my regular rotation.

The last time I cooked pollock on the stove, it fell apart so quickly I ended up dumping an unappetizing-looking pile of fish flakes onto my plate. This recipe really does help maintain the structural integrity of a delicate white fish fillet so you can retain some semblance of an aesthetically pleasing dish presentation and salvage your reputation as a cook.

I ended up just ignoring my timer. You’ll need to adjust cooking time a bit anyway based on your own pan, stove, and thickness of the fillet. Since you are pretty much “tending” to your fillet the entire time while basting it with butter, you can really gauge when it’s done without relying on a clock. The thyme smells absolutely intoxicating while you lean over the pan to spoon the sizzling butter. Please note the results are almost too buttery. almost.

To balance it out don’t forget to serve with plenty of lemon wedges, and perhaps a bright fresh green salad and a glass of sauvignon blanc. Did this recipe blow me away? Well. not exactly. Is this a tasty, easy, and reliable weekday dinner? Absolutely!


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Baked Halibut With Lemon-Caper Dijonnaise

The delicate flavor of halibut requires a sauce that contains a mild-flavored Dijon-style mustard. Serve the fish and mustard sauce with steamed potatoes and steamed green beans or asparagus.

Servings: 4

For the lemon-caper dijonnaise: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Add the scallions, salt and, if desired, capers and combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

For the halibut: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pat the fillets dry. Place them, skin side down, on a clean, dry surface. Sprinkle each fillet lightly with salt, spread some mustard evenly over the top and sides of each fillet, and sprinkle first with some bread crumbs and then with parsley.

Line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter over the foil. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the fillets to the buttered foil. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the fillets Squeeze the lemon evenly over the fillets.

Bake the halibut until it is crusty and golden on the outside and moist and flaky in the middle, 15 to 18 minutes.

Transfer the fish to individual plates and pass the mustard sauce on the side. If desired, serve with additional lemon wedges on the side.

Recipe Source

Adapted from "A Return to Sunday Dinner," by Russell Cronkhite (Multnomah Gifts, 2003).

  • 1 pound halibut fillets
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay®)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika, or to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, chopped, or more to taste
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, or to taste

Season halibut fillets with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat add onion. Cook and stir until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine simmer until slightly reduced but still juicy, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into the bottom of a baking pan. Place seasoned halibut on top.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, seafood seasoning, white pepper, paprika, and dill in a bowl. Season with salt. Pour on top of halibut. Sprinkle green onions, panko, and capers on top.

Bake in the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 minutes.

Bread and Butter NYC

Butter Basted Artic Char With Capers

This has got to be the easiest meal you can prepare for family on a week night, or for a dinner party and truly impress the guests. I got the recipe from bon appetit January 2014 and substituted artic char for halibut steaks. The latter are not easy to get as the halibut is generally de-boned and filleted. My kids also prefer arctic char and I got the large fillets which I halved. I served this with roasted asparagus and potatoes. This is really what cooking is about- simple, fresh and easy to prepare. Delicious!

2 large artic char fillets- halved into 4 pieces

2 garlic cloves peeled, crushed and chopped finely

- Heat the oil in a non stick pan. season fish, put skin side up. cook for 4/5 mins- do not move around. Then flip over. after two mins add the time, garlic,  butter and capers. Cook 2 more mins and serve. Spoon the butter over the fish. 

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound halibut fillets, preferably wild caught
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, dill, oregano, or other favorite). If you’re substituting dried herbs, reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon.
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush halibut fillets with olive oil. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
  4. Add garlic, and sauté for about five minutes. Garlic should be golden brown and fragrant.
  5. Turn off heat add lemon juice, zest, and herbs. Pour over fish.
  6. Bake fish for 10 minutes, basting it with lemon/herb/butter mixture about halfway through.
  7. Check to make certain the fish is opaque at its thickest point, which means it is done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Top each portion with a spoonful of lemon/herb/butter before serving.

Last Updated: October 8, 2018
Originally Published: May 3, 2012

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  • 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound halibut fillet (about 1 1/2 inches thick), cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup fish stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

With a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from lemon and discard. Cut the segments of the fruit away from their surrounding membranes into a bowl (discard seeds). Strain and reserve juice. Chop fruit coarsely.

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge fish lightly in the flour mixture. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the fish until the outside is golden brown and the interior is opaque, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plates or a platter and keep warm.

Add garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for several seconds. Add fish stock or broth and bring to a boil, stirring. Add lemon and juice, capers (if using) and butter, swirling the pan until the butter has melted. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with parsley and grind more pepper over top.

8. Fish can help prevent, manage, and treat depression and anxiety-related disorders

One of the main nutrients found in fish is vitamin D, and studies have shown that a deficiency in the vitamin during the winter months results in winter depression, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder (2).

Studies have also shown that the vitamin has a positive effect on moods even during other seasons other than winter (2).

Several studies have indicated that a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids, one of the main nutrients found in fish, is responsible for depression in women during and after pregnancy (21).

Research has shown that people, especially women, who consumed more fish per week, were less likely to develop depression and related symptoms (21).

Scientific studies have also shown that individuals suffering from major depressive disorder have low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain, indicating these nutrients may have a protective effect against the disorder (23).

Other studies have indicated that the omega 3 fatty acids can help improve patients that suffer from bipolar disorders as well as depression (3).

In addition, research shows that the acids are critical in the prevention of excess aggression in young adults (3).

Fish also contain significant amounts of selenium, and comprehensive research has shown that the mineral can help improve mood, and reduce anxiety (24).

Bottom Line: Fish contain several nutrients that have a direct role in regulating moods, and preventing mood disorders such as major depressive disorder, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders.


Nothing says fall quite like the warm flavors of caramelized foods, and this candy-meets-seafood recipe from Delightful Plate certainly does not disappoint! There is just something very homey about this dish, probably because it is in the meal rotation of every family in Vietnam. Served with rice, this dish makes a very satisfying meal. It is a sure-fire hit that will have your guests (and their hearts) asking for seconds.

Warm butter, thyme, and golden-hued halibut come together for an impressive and delicious main course for autumn. Don’t let the butter deter you from giving this omega-3-filled recipe from Bon Appétit a shot! Not only is this recipe extremely easy to throw together, but it also delivers a great deal of omega-3 fatty acids – approximately 2.5 grams of omega-3s per serving.