Pistachio-crusted halibut on golden beets with tartar sauce

Crispy fish and flavourful sauce a great combination!

Halibut is one of my favourite fish to cook and eat because of its delicate texture and flavour. When shopping, look for sustainably harvested fish that does not have a strong fishy aroma. Because the fillets are generally of an even thickness, they are easy to cook fairly quickly over medium-high heat. Pistachios are a great alternative to an all-breadcrumb coating as they add nice crunch and flavour. Similarly, the golden beets are a nice option instead of rice, potatoes or other side dishes. I love the caper-based tartar sauce but you could use traditionally flavoured sauce if you prefer; the fish is so tasty on its own that even just a squeeze of lemon is sufficient. I like to serve this dish with kale salad for a nice pop of colour and texture on the plate.

For the fish:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 12 ounce (350 grams) portion boneless, skinless halibut
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly-ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) grainy Dijon (can use regular Dijon if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • lemon wedges (garnish)

For the beets:

  • 2 medium sized golden beets
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar

For the tartar sauce

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL)rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced capers
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced shallots
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (1 – 3 mL) chili paste (Sambal Oelek)


  • Put the fish in a bowl or other dish just large enough to hold it. Pour the milk over top and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours. This produces a moister and more flavourful end result, particularly if the halibut was previously frozen.
  • Wash and peel the beets; cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick slices.
  • In a large skillet that has a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the beets to the pan and stir well to coat them evenly with the oil.
  • Cover the pan and cook the beets until tender, stirring occasionally. This will take approximately 20 – 30 minutes. When the beets are tender (pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife to test), add the vinegar, shake the pan to distribute, and remove from heat.
  • Combine all ingredients for the tartar sauce and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Combine chopped pistachios and Panko in a broad, shallow bowl.
  • With a spoon or your fingers, spread the Dijon evenly over the fish fillet. This will help the crust adhere to the fish.
  • Place the fish fillet in the pistachio-Panko mixture and press down lightly so the crumbs adhere to the fish. Gently turn the fish over and press again; do the same for the narrow sides. Use your fingertips to add crumbs to coat any bare spots as needed.
  • Once the fish is coated, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized, heavy duty skillet (use cast iron if you have it).
  • When the oil is hot, gently add the fish to the pan and reduce heat to medium.
  • Cook for 4 minutes and carefully turn the fish over in the pan. After an additional 3 minutes of cooking on the second side, start checking the internal temperature of the fish; it is ready when it reaches 125F.
  • To serve, divide the beet slices among two warmed dinner plates. With a spatula, gently cut the cooked halibut in half and lay the fish on top of the beets. Garnish with a generous dollop of tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.

Serves 2.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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