Halibut Timatar

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Our spicy and fragrant tomato-based sauce is the perfect accompaniment for fresh halibut fillets. The sauce can be made a few days ahead. Before baking the fish with the sauce, we pan sear the fillets to add a layer of flavor complexity.

Serves: 4
Difficulty: easy
Prep time: 40 min
Cook time: 25 min


6 T expeller pressed safflower oil, divided
1½ t whole fennel seeds
1½ t whole mustard seeds
1 lb diced yellow onions
2 T minced garlic
¾ t + ½ t sea salt
½ t cayenne pepper, divided
1½ t ground cumin
1 T curry powder
1½ lb diced tomatoes
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
½ c water
4, 6 oz halibut fillets
½ t turmeric


For the sauce, heat half the oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the seed spices; after they sizzle and begin to pop, about 1 min, add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until onions are slightly browned. Stir in ¾ t salt, ¼ t cayenne, cumin and curry powder and cook for 1 min until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chopped cilantro and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 min until slightly thickened. (Sauce may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

For the halibut, combine ½ t salt, ¼ t cayenne and ½ t turmeric. With paper towels, pat halibut fillets dry and rub the fillets on both sides with the salt mixture. Set aside for 30 min.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Heat remaining oil in sauté pan and sear the fish on both sides until lightly browned. Transfer to a baking dish and pour sauce over the fish. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 min until fish is done. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Serve with rice, dal, naan, chutney, etc.