Salsa Simmered Halibut (or other white fish)
Yield: 4 servings (recipe easy to cut in half; in that case cook in a 10-inch skillet)
Feel free to use your favorite white fish in this quick-cooking, one-pan recipe that is delightful served over rice. You can also mix up the flavor profile by using flavored salsas like tequila lime or mango habanero and trying both the lime juice as well as the vinegar option over time.


  • 4 (about ¾-inch thick) halibut fillets (~6 ounces each; see notes for substitutions*)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided use
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I’ve omitted when in a hurry)
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) tomato salsa**
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (may substitute red wine vinegar)
  • Optional: a cup or so of black beans, rinsed and drained; corn would likely complement nicely, too
  • Serving options: cooked rice; 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or a somewhat lighter sprinkle of chopped fresh oregano


  1. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, and then sprinkle the top of the fillets evenly with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch, nonstick frying pan or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. When the skillet is hot, add the fish, top side down, and sear undisturbed for 1 minute. Carefully flip with a flat spatula and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the fish to a plate and set aside (the fish will not be fully cooked at this point).
  2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add the lime juice and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the salsa and bring to a simmer. Add the black beans (or corn) now, if using.
  3. Return the fillets and any accumulated juices to the pan. Simmer, uncovered, until the fish is opaque and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. (Tip: fish cooks quickly; this won’t take long.) Remove from the heat.
  4. If using rice, place in 4 shallow bowls. Place a piece of fish in each bowl and spoon the salsa around it. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, if using, and serve immediately.


*Fish substitutions: Any firm-fleshed white fish, like sea bass, tilapia, or skinless cod fillets may be used in this recipe. A more delicate fish like flounder works and tastes great but will tend to break apart more easily.

**Feel free to choose your favorite salsa. In addition to the traditional variety, we enjoy some of the tomato-based salsas that include fruit, because they complement the fish and the hint of lime so well. Mrs. Renfro’s mango habanero is a go-to. I recently used a tequila lime tomato salsa with the red wine vinegar substitute, which was delightful. And I just purchased Paul Newman’s tomato salsa with pineapple that I’m excited to try.

**Note that some black bean and corn salsas may not be saucy enough for this recipe. I’d sooner stick with a tomato-based salsa and add some corn and black beans.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and they make a great bowl-type meal. I often break up the fish and serve the saucy mixture over rice, sometimes including black beans, fresh greens, and/or corn, and then top with chopped avocado and a few crumbled tortilla chips.

Adapted from:

Sheela Prakash

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