This warm halibut salad is made with pan-seared halibut, a bed of wilted spinach, and a quick bourbon dressing. Serve this decadent seafood salad for date night!
About a month ago, the husband and I took an end-of-summer drive to Bourbon Country.
We had lunch at my favorite Korean restaurant in Lexington, and then meandered over to the Wild Turkey distillery.
As we waited for our tour, I flipped through a few of their gift shop cookbooks, and smiled at all the ways there are to cook with bourbon.
One of my favorite things to do with bourbon is to add it to a hot honey sauce, and then pour it all over fish.
Why is it a favorite? For starters, it’s both fast and easy.
That would be a WIN and a WIN.
Also, it feels so incredibly fancy!
This warm halibut salad is served over a bed of spinach and topped with a delicious bourbon dressing. It’s perfect for date night and comes together in minutes.
If you’ve got more halibut in your fridge or freezer, check out this pan-seared halibut with lemon caper sauce, halibut tacos, or use halibut to make Julia Child’s fish meunière (fish in butter sauce).
Cooking with Halibut
Halibut is, quite possibly, the most luxurious white fish, with thick, meaty fillets that are perfect for luscious sauces.
If you’ve never cooked with halibut, here’s what to expect.
Halibut fillets are white and firm, and have a light, sweet flavor.
Halibut is delicious and flaky, but it has a tendency to dry out if you overcook it. To help keep it moist, make sure to add a little fat to the pan (I use butter), and keep an eye on the cooking time.
How to Make a Halibut Salad
Start by making a bourbon dressing.
Heat honey in a small pot, and when it starts to boil, watch it closely. As soon as the honey turns a dark amber, add the bourbon and balsamic vinegar.
Stir and continue cooking for another minute or two to thicken the dressing. Remove the sauce from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Next, cook the halibut. Dry off the fish, and put it in a hot pan with butter and oil.
Set the fillets in the pan, and don’t touch for about three or four minutes.
Slide a thin metal spatula under the fish, and if it releases, it’s ready to flip. If it doesn’t, wait a few seconds and try again.
Flip the halibut, and add a little extra butter to the top of the fish.
Need more help? Check out this tutorial on How to Pan-Sear Fish.
When the halibut is golden on both sides, remove it from the pan.
Add the spinach to the hot pan, tossing it for a few seconds to wilt the greens.
Place the spinach on plates, add the halibut, and drizzle the bourbon sauce over the fish and greens.
Serve these halibut salads right away, and enjoy!
Halibut Salad with Bourbon Dressing
- 2 halibut fillets (~ 4oz each) Or substitute cod
- 2 TB butter, divided
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup honey OR sorghum syrup
- 4 oz fresh spinach
- Pat halibut dry, and then pat it dry again. Allow it to come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar and bourbon together and set aside. Keep the balsamic-bourbon mixture within arm’s reach, so that you can grab it quickly when the honey is ready.
- Pour honey into a small, heavy bottom pot and turn heat to medium. In about 1-2 minutes, the honey should start to bubble. Stir it with a wooden spoon until the honey darkens in color and turns amber (about 3 more minutes). The caramelizing honey will be EXTREMELY hot. Do not touch it or attempt to taste it at this point.
- Carefully, standing back from the pot in case of splash-back, pour the balsamic and bourbon mixture into the pot with the honey. Stir, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Take sauce off the heat, and set aside. If the sauce cools and thickens too much while the fish is cooking, simply set it back on the heat for about a minute, or until it heats up again.
- Heat 1 TB butter and all of the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat.
- Salt both sides of the halibut.
- Set halibut in hot pan, and DO NOT TOUCH IT. Sear for 3-4 minutes, or until you can flip the halibut with a thin metal spatula. If it sticks to the pan, wait another 30 seconds. The fish will release when it's done cooking.
- Divide the remaining butter and set it on top of the two halibut fillets, allowing it to melt as the fish cooks. Sear them for 3-4 more minutes, and then remove halibut from the pan. Set fish to the side, and cover to keep warm.
- Lower heat to medium. Add fresh spinach to the hot pan, and toss for about 30 seconds, or until it begins to wilt. Transfer spinach to plates, and top with the fish.
- Serve spinach and fish immediately with bourbon dressing.