What to Serve with Halibut: 15 Perfectly Paired Side Dishes
Oh, halibut, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways!
Delicately sweet, flaky, and mild, halibut is such a lovely fish for a summer dinner. It’s substantial and meaty enough that it really satisfies, but light enough that it never weighs you down.
Halibut loves to be coddled with delicate preparations, such as poaching in oil or water, steaming, braising, or sautéing in nice brown butter sauce.
But, halibut loves to be baked or grilled too. It’s truly versatile.
Whether it’s grilled or poached, pan roasted or steamed, halibut really does play nicely with a huge range of flavors.
Are you craving a little Asian spice? Halibut can handle it. In the mood for light, spring chowder? Give halibut a try.
It’s mild and sweet enough that it takes many flavors well, making what to serve with halibut a true adventure.
You can imbue your main dish with hearty and intense flavors of India or Thailand. Or you can keep your sauce simple and mild to let the fish itself shine with a simple finish of fresh herbs.
If you’re more in the mood for minimal flavor profiles, you can really let the halibut sing. They also leave the door open for just the right halibut side dish to help pull the whole meal together.
Side Dishes for Halibut: A List of Delightful Recipes
With so much versatility and so many options, though, too many choices might seem daunting. Just what do we pair with that dreamy, creamy white halibut fillet?
We’re here to help.
Whether you’re going minimal or maximal, we’ve got a plethora of the best side dishes for you that really fit the bill.
1. Lemon Braised Fennel
Braised fennel and halibut play together beautifully. They’re both mellow and mild, while each still has its own distinctive character to set them apart and keep you interested.
They’re like a married couple who’ve grown to look like one another, but who’s distinct personalities still shine.
To bring these two even closer though, they need a pair of best friends that love them each equally. Enter lemon and white wine, spot-on pairings for the star couple of halibut and fennel.
Steven Thompson over at Sips, Nibbles and Bites has you covered with this recipe: sipsnibblesbites.com
2. Haricot Verts with Lemon-Herb Brown Butter
A nutty brown butter sauce is perfect over a beautiful fillet of halibut, but why not save that luscious and super-simple sauce for your side dish?
The halibut won’t even mind, at least as long as said side dish is chock full of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and chives.
The fresh taste and contrasting crunch of haricot verts (thin French green beans) only makes the pairing with your fish even better.
All that said, halibut will also heartily approve of the star of this haricot verts side dish from Amanda over at the Striped Spatula. Check out the recipe here: stripedspatula.com
3. Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Shallots and Fresh Herbs
Speaking of thyme and rosemary – not to mention garlic and shallots!
Whether you use similar or contrasting flavors in your main dish, these herbs, seasonings and textures will really tie the whole meal together.
The tender flesh and lightly caramelized starchiness of this potato dish is just right with the delicate flakiness of halibut.
These braised fingerling potatoes from A Beautiful Plate’s Laura will really round out your favorite halibut dinner nicely. For the full recipe, visit here: abeautifulplate.com
4. Spring Pesto Roasted Tomatoes
When your main protein comes together quickly and simply, you want sides for halibut hat can match that fast pace.
Looking for more textural and flavor contrasts in neat little bundles that come together in a snap?
Fresh spring tomato halves, topped with pesto and a touch of heat from red pepper flakes and a kiss of crunch from breadcrumbs, explode in your mouth with flavor.
If you keep prepped pesto and breadcrumbs on hand, it takes no time to prep and keeps the stove top free for cooking your fish.
Lisa from Garlic and Zest has just what your halibut ordered. Go pay her a visit now at: garlicandzest.com
5. Garlic Ginger Bok Choy with Toasted Sesame Seeds
Another super fast and simple side dish that will really bring your halibut to life is this garlic ginger bok choy stir fry.
Just a few minutes of prep and a few minutes over the wok – or skillet – and this fantastically fresh and gorgeous side is ready for the table.
Light Asian flavors are a great match for halibut, so the bright ginger and garlic notes -- with the deeper soy and sesame seed richness -- will boost the meal to a new level.
Christine over at Apple of My Eye has everything you need to know here: apple-of-my-eye.com
6. Glazed Carrots
Sweet and crunchy with a bit of brightness from fresh ginger, these glazed carrots bring some great contrast to any dinner of flaky halibut.
The buttery brown sugar undercurrents of the glaze really bring out the natural sweetness of the carrot.
Best of all, these carrots come together with no muss or fuss, so they’re done just in time for the main dish.
Learn how to pull them together with Lamise O’s awesome video.
7. Celery Root and Apple Salad
A clean and vibrant crunch is a satisfying contrast to the gentle flakiness of halibut, which means this salad might just become your new go-to side dish.
While the textures may contrast, the clean flavors – light celery root, lemon, and parsley, with earthy walnuts and a refreshingly acidic vinaigrette – all walk hand-in-hand with halibut’s light flavor profile.
In fact, you might just want to serve that lightly poached halibut right on top of this salad – and call it a match made in gourmand heaven.
If you’ve never had celery root raw this salad from Sylie over at Gourmande in the Kitchen will be a revelation! Celery root for the win! gourmandeinthekitchen.com
8. Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad
Classic, gourmet simplicity at its best, a fennel salad with citrus is a halibut pairing to die for.
Textures – crispy meets soft and juicy – meet misty citrus aromas and a bit of sweet. Herby dill sidles up to a bit of spice. All for a showstoppingly fresh mouthful.
Again, all of these flavors dovetail beautifully with halibut. Orange? Check. Dill? Absolutely. Fennel? You know that’s right. Red chile pepper? Bingo!
The Vegan Corner will unlock this salad’s secrets for you in this video:
9. LIME-CILANTRO SUGAR SNAP PEAS
Lime, cilantro, and peas, oh my! Sugar snaps that is.
This amazing little side exemplifies why simplicity can be exciting. And why simple dishes are so often the perfect companion for a fish like halibut.
By using just the right combination of snap peas, cilantro, crushed peanuts, oil, acid, and spice, this quick and easy salad “says everything” with just a few “words.”
Plain ol’ sweet peas would work too, but why not go for the extra snap and crunch in this recipe?
Your halibut will thank you.
Holly over at From My Impossibly Tiny Kitchen is onto something good with this one. Get the skinny right here: fmitk.com
10. Pink Grapefruit and Watercress Salad
With sweet and tart pink grapefruit and mix of peppery watercress and endive, this salad really packs a wallop of flavors.
And, oh, that dressing. Fresh grapefruit juice gets together with lemony, earthy sumac and a touch of heat and a kiss of sweet.
And it adds a gorgeous visual palette to any plate! Your halibut is going to feel like it has a supermodel on its arm!
Really what is there to say about this salad? Other than, “Yes, please!”
Sue at The View From Great Island will teach you how to make it here: theviewfromgreatisland.com
11. Sauteed Corn with Fresh Tarragon and Shitake Mushrooms
Simplicity is often the best recipe, and that’s even more true when your cooking for a halibut meal.
When you focus on fresh ingredients and simple preparations, you’ve already won half the battle.
This sautéed corn and mushroom dish will win the war.
Slightly earthy and slightly sweet, this side dish of corn, tarragon and shitakes would be the perfect accompaniment to a simple, lightly herbed, pan-seared halibut fillet.
With the perfect combination of just a few fresh ingredients with a few minutes, you’ll have this on the plate in a snap.
Robin from Cali Girl Cooking has everything you need to know over here: caligirlcooking.com
12. Spring Potato Salad with Asparagus and Peas
Spring and summer are the perfect time to indulge in your love of halibut, so the best choice of side dish will often be culled from the flavors of the season.
Lexi and Beth over at Crowded Kitchen have reimagined potato salad that’s so fresh and seasonal that you’ll do a double take.
Potato salad, we hardly knew thee!
Loaded with crisp asparagus and peas, livened with fresh herbs and a lemon vinaigrette, this salad is both light and substantial at the same time – just like halibut!
Get the amazing and beauteous recipe here: crowdedkitchen.com
13. Artichoke Hearts in White Wine Garlic Butter Sauce
This artichoke side dish pairs so beautifully with halibut that you could practically turn them into one main dish.
No side needed. Just cook that fillet right in the same pan.
Or, if you prefer to keep things separate, just dip your halibut in this garlicy, buttery goodness one forkful at a time and follow it up with a bite of artichoke heart.
Either way, you simply can’t go wrong with this combination.
Check out Gerry’s recipe over at Foodness Gracious: foodnessgracious.com
14. Green Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
If halibut is fond of citrus, then when halibut first met blood orange the first thing out of its mouth was, “Where have you been all my life?”
In other words, blood orange and halibut are soul mates.
Just a few bites of this green salad with blood orange slices and a zippy blood orange vinaigrette and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
Nami at Just One Cookbook will show you the way here: justonecookbook.com
15. Sauteed Mushroom and Spinach with Spicy Garlic Sauce
As we like to say, halibut can really hold its own with a wide range of flavors, and this spicy Asian-inspired side dish is a prime example.
Meaty shitake mushrooms and slightly bitter spinach are the central ingredients here, but the vibrant and spicy sauce really makes everything really sing.
Both the fresh and the earthier flavors are great pairings with halibut. And pulling them all together in this one side dish is extremely satisfying.
Kelly over at Just a Taste is really onto something here. Check out the recipe here: justataste.com
What to Serve with Halibut: The Full Story
Not all halibut is the same. As a whole, this fish has it’s own unique qualities.
Keeping this in mind can impact your options for what goes with halibut and similar dishes for your gourmet dinner or luncheon with friends.
Preparing for Your Preparations
There are also a few different halibuts that can suggest different preparations. Of course this helps you choose some just the right halibut side dishes.
On the East Coast, Atlantic halibut tends to be a little lighter and more delicate, so steaming and poaching are often the best techniques according to many chefs.
Because Atlantic halibut is actually becoming harder to find, though, you’re more likely to find Pacific halibut these days, even along the East Coast.
The Pacific variety is heartier and more robust than its Atlantic counterpart. It still has a nice delicately sweet flavor, but it’s flaky and firm texture holds up even better to grilling, roasting and – well – almost any preparation you can throw at it.
Use your imagination and have fun. This includes not forgetting that Halibut makes a great fried fish for tacos, sandwiches and more.
Flat Doesn’t Mean Small
Halibut are flatfish, related to flounder and sole.
These are big fish (even larger than tuna). Pacific halibut are actually the largest flatfish in the world, sometimes growing more than 7 feet long and weighing much more than 500 pounds.
Male halibut are smaller, rarely weighing more than 100 pounds.
Halibut have a unique anatomy as well. While they begin life with eyes on either side of their head, early in life one eye “migrates” until both eyes are on the same side.
Around the same time their top side darkens, while their underside remains white.
Both colorings serve as a form of camouflage.
The dark coloring matches the ocean floor and camouflages the fish from above. The lighter coloring on the underside helps hide the halibut when viewed from below as the light from the ocean’s surface filters downward.
One place that this ocean creature won’t hide, though, is on the plate, especially when you’ve got what to serve with halibut surrounding it and elevating it to rock star status.