This pan-roasted halibut with caper vinaigrette gets its crisp skin from high heat and its flavor from a vinaigrette of capers, garlic, mustard, and herbs. Pan-seared and perfect.

For this pan-seared halibut, we like our fish to have a very crispy skin, which we achieve only by using an extremely hot pan that burns the seasonings into the skin and locks in the juices. When you achieve this crispiness, the texture is exquisite. We use blended oil for just about every recipe. Even plain olive oil, which we use here, can be very strong and in many recipes will overpower the dish, so we dilute the flavor with canola oil. This blend will be subtle and not overwhelm the other flavors in the dish.–Sondra Bernstein

*What can I substitute for capers?

Capers, a small Mediterranean fruit that’s picked before they’ve ripened, are a small but powerful addition to dinner. Lemony, tangy, and briny, you’ll definitely miss the flavor if you leave them out just because you don’t have any on hand. Green olives are pretty close—use the unfilled kind and chop them into pea-sized bits. They’ll come even closer to the taste of capers if you toss with a little bit of salt, oil, and vinegar before using them.

A piece of pan-roasted halibut with caper vinaigrette on a plate with a fork cutting off a piece.

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Caper Vinaigrette

5 / 3 votes
This pan-roasted halibut with caper vinaigrette gets its crisp skin from high heat and its flavor from a vinaigrette of capers, garlic, mustard, and herbs. Pan-seared and perfect.
Servings6 servings
Calories374 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


For the blended oil

  • 1 part olive oil such as Critelli
  • 3 parts canola oil

For the caper vinaigrette

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blended oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers* drained
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper

For the halibut

  • 6 (6 to 8 ounce) halibut fillets
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil


Make the blended oil

  • Simply blend.

Make the caper vinaigrette

  • In a food processor or in a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the oil. Remove the mixture from the blender to a bowl and fold in the capers, mustard, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the halibut

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175C°F).
  • Gently season the halibut on both sides with salt and white pepper. Heat the oil in an ovenproof saute pan and sear the halibut on one side until lightly brown. Flip the fish over and sear the other side. Flip over again and place the pan in the oven to cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Drizzle with the Caper Vinaigrette. Originally published July 06, 2004.
The Girl & The Fig Cookbook by Sondra Bernstein

Adapted From

The Girl & The Fig Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 374 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 33 gFat: 26 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 16 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 145 mgSodium: 220 mgPotassium: 770 mgFiber: 0.3 gSugar: 0.1 gVitamin A: 250 IUVitamin C: 2 mgCalcium: 30 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2004 Sondra Bernstein. Photo © 2004 Craig Lee. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

In spite of its simplicity, you couldn’t ask for a better method to cook halibut—it had a well-seasoned crust on the outside and was moist and juicy on the inside. The caper vinaigrette, which actually resembled a homemade tartar sauce, really parlayed this dish up to gourmet status.

We enjoyed eating this delicious dinner on our deck overlooking the ocean, on a night when the waves were phosphorescent. A perfect setting for a perfect meal.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Wow, what a great sauce for the halibut. I had a nice thick piece of Alaskan halibut and wanted to try something different. This recipe is quick and easy to make, and the vinaigrette was briny and tangy all at once and doesn’t overpower the fish. I made the sauce an hour earlier to let the flavors meld a bit. I have leftover vinaigrette that I plan to serve beside some crab cakes I’m making for New year’s Eve!

  2. 5 stars
    At the last minute I had unexpected company for dinner and decided to try this pan-roasted halibut with caper vinaigrette. It was easy to prepare the vinaigrette ahead of time and place it in the fridge. When our guests arrived, I did the pan-searing and then placed the fish in the oven. Easy, tasty, and everyone wanted the recipe.

    1. Marian, I’m with you. And as I’m trying to eat less red meat, this recipe is a winner.