Masala Rubbed Halibut with Mango Salsa

Masala Rubbed Halibut with Mango Salsa is perfect for fish-lovers and fish-skeptics alike. It has a balanced mix of warming spices adding depth to the clean buttery firmness of the halibut. The mango salsa contrasts with a strong acid brightness and fruity sweetness. Masala Rubbed Halibut with Mango Salsa is the culmination of my 10 year quest to make a fish main course that Rebecca loves. Success! This is Rebecca's gateway fish!

Halibut is clean tasting, very low fat, and has a firm meaty texture. If you are up for a little more robust fish flavor you can substitute salmon without any other adjustments needed. The sweet richness of salmon blends beautifully with the masala spice rub. Whenever you buy fish, try to get the freshest fish you can find (we prefer Wholey's in the Strip District). The key to this dish is a perfect sear...which means it is time to break out your cast iron pan if you have one! This recipe uses two methods of heat transfer (stove top and oven) to produce a perfect cook every time. 


Yield: 2 portions


   Masala Rubbed Halibut 

  • 1 pound halibut fillets (two similar fillets, each about 1 inch thick), bones removed, skin on
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (canola or other high-heat oil)

   Mango Salsa

  • 2 medium mangos, finely diced, approximately 1 cup (note we used Champagne mangos)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely diced (approximately 1/8 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (approximately 1 lime's worth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


   Masala Rubbed Halibut 

  1. Preheat oven to 425, and move 1 oven rack to the top third of the oven.
  2. Take fish out of the refrigerator and pat dry with a paper towel. Set the fish on a wide plate to season.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the salt and spices of the masala rub (cumin, salt, cardamom, black pepper, coriander, allspice, yellow mustard, and cayenne).
  4. Gently rub the spice mixture into all surfaces of the fish, flipping to coat evenly. You will use all of the spice rub.
  5. Add the oil to your cast iron skillet (or heavy-bottomed oven safe pan) and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, or until the oil just begins to smoke. It is very important that you preheat the pan thoroughly, as your fish will stick and not develop a crisp sear if the pan is not hot enough.
  6. Gently place the fish into the pan, skin side up.  Start by laying down the side closest to you to keep it from splattering as the moist fish hits the hot oil. You will hear a loud sizzling as the fish develops a crisp sear. Do not disturb the fish for 3 minutes.
  7. After 3 minutes, use a fish spatula (or the thinnest spatula you have) to gently turn the fish so the skin side can cook. You will cook over high heat on the stove top for 1 minute.
  8. After 1 minute, remove the pan from the stove and slide into the preheated oven (the rack should be in the top third of the oven). Allow to cook for 6 minutes.
  9. Using a pot holder to avoid burning your hand, carefully remove from the fish dish from the oven and serve immediately garnished with mango salsa.

   Mango Salsa

  1. Combine all ingredients (mango, tomato, onion, cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, cumin and salt) in a large bowl and gently stir with to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  2. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, and pour off any pooled liquid.
  3. Spoon over and beside the fish. Enjoy!