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Few summer dishes could be simpler or more delicious than this grilled halibut with peach salsa. Not only is it a healthy light meal that looks beautiful when plated, but it’s ready in around 15 minutes. No heating up the kitchen required!
This fast and easy dish features sweet ripe peaches in a savoury salsa that complements the wonderful charred flavour of fresh seafood.
Why We Love This Grilled Halibut Recipe
- Halibut is a lean, sweet-tasting, firm fish that’s super easy to grill.
- While halibut is more expensive than cod or haddock, it’s worth the premium price when it comes to grilling as it holds its shape better.
- Look for fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Learn more about sustainable wild and farmed seafood at the Ocean Wise Seafood Program.
- Grilling fish adds a smoky flavour that nicely complements the sweetness of summer peaches.
- It takes around 15 minutes to make this dish which means less time in the kitchen. That’s always a good thing on sunny summer days when you want to be outdoors!
- For the ultimate in convenience you can make the salsa up to five days in advance. Store it covered in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature when ready to serve. Because the peaches are cooked they won’t oxidize and turn brown.
Ingredients for Grilled Fish
The only ingredients needed are:
Halibut: You can use fresh or thawed frozen fish in this recipe. Halibut has an excellent texture even after its frozen.
Just be sure to thaw frozen fish in the fridge and use it immediately after it’s thawed. Check out Chef’s Vault and other online sources where you can order top quality halibut pre-portioned.
Look for line-caught halibut that is harvested sustainably. For this recipe I used halibut line caught in the pristine waters of Port Hardy in British Columbia, Canada. Much like the lobster in Creamy Lobster Fettuccine it came from Chef’s Vault.
Quality Oil: Grape seed, canola or extra virgin olive oil (a neutral or light olive oil rather than strong tasting) are all good choices.
Sea Salt: Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater so it’s a natural and minimally processed salt that goes especially well with fish. Its crystals are slightly larger than table salt which adds a slight crust when grilling.
Fresh Lime: Squeezing a fresh lime wedge over the finished dish adds a beautiful citrus aroma and a nice kick of acidity. It complements the sweetness of the halibut and the peaches. You can substitute lemon or omit it entirely.
Ingredients For the Peach Salsa
This recipe is similar to our recipe for Spicy Jalapeño Peach Salsa but we’ve toned down the heat to allow the delicate flavour of halibut to shine.
Fresh Peaches – Peach season begins in July, hits its peak in August and continues through September. There are three main types of peaches to choose from. Freestone peaches feature flesh that easily pulls away from the pit, while clingstone clings to the stone but are sweeter. Semi-freestone fall somewhere in between.
You can use any type of ripe peach to make salsa but yellow peaches provide the best colour. In Ontario, my favourite orchard for picking peaches is Cherry Avenue Farms. It’s been owned and operated by the Moyer Family since 1799. Check the Cherry Avenue Farms website for picking times.
Jalapeño – Adds a bit of heat to the salsa. Substitute poblano or green bell peppers if you’d like your salsa to be milder.
Cumin – A member of the parsley family, this spice is popular in Latin American, Middle Eastern, African and Indian cuisine for its rich, earthy flavour.
Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is an aromatic additions to salsas. It adds a bright flavour that complements many dishes such as grilled fish or chicken and tacos. Some people have a genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap so if that’s you, just substitute hierba buena (mint) or fresh parsley for cilantro.
Red Pepper: Red bell peppers are crisp and mild tasting.
Red Onion – The red colour and mild flavour makes these onions perfect for salsas.
Honey – Honey (or swap agave syrup) boosts the sweetness of the peaches.
White Vinegar – Contributes a light acidity that counterbalances the sweetness of the fruit. Also helps preserve the colour and flavour. If you have champagne vinegar that’s also lovely.
How to Make Fish with Peach Salsa
Set your barbecue grill to medium-high. While it’s preheating, begin making the salsa. It can simmer while you grill the fish.
1. Blanch the peaches by placing them in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Quickly remove them using tongs (or a slotted spoon) and plunge into an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water).
You should then be able to slip the skins off the peaches without using a peeler or knife. If some of the skin sticks, just cut it off with the knife. Then remove the pits and chop the flesh into small pieces.
2. Score the ends of each tomato crosswise. Blanch by placing them in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Quickly remove them with tongs (or a slotted spoon) and plunge them into an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water).
You’ll then be able to peel the tomatoes easily with a knife and chop into very small pieces.
3. Peel the onion and chop it, along with the sweet red and jalapeño peppers, into small pieces. Remember to wear gloves when chopping fresh jalapeño peppers!
Hot peppers (especially the seeds) contain capsaicin which is a compound that can cause your skin to feel as though it’s burning.
4. Chop the cilantro finely and combine in a large pot along with the chopped vegetables and fruit.
5. Add vinegar, honey and cumin to the saucepan and stir to combine.
6. Cook, uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. You want the salsa to cook until it thickens slightly but not be mushy.
7. While the salsa is simmering, clean the pre-heated grill with a grill brush. Generously brush with vegetable or olive oil.
8. If not already done by your fish monger or supplier, portion your halibut by cutting it with a sharp knife into pieces. One pound of halibut will provide four servings of four ounces each.
If you’re using frozen halibut, portion sizes are often six ounces each. So you’ll need to factor the larger size into the cooking time.
9. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. It needs to be completely dry so it will brown when grilled. If it’s waterlogged, then leave on a plate uncovered in the fridge for a few hours. Brush both sides of the halibut filet with extra-virgin olive oil.
10. Sprinkle the fish with sea salt.
11. Place the halibut on the oiled grill grate and grill until browned on one side (around 4 minutes). Turn over and continue to grill until opaque in the centre, about five minutes.
Cooking time varies depending on the thickness of the fish, but allow 9-10 minutes per inch of thickness. Grilled fish is cooked when it reaches 145°F or 63 °C.
You can tell it’s done when the fish changes colour from translucent to opaque. It will flake easily with a knife.
12. Once the fish is cooked place it on individual dishes or a serving platter.
13. Remove the saucepan of cooked peach salsa from the stovetop.
14. Top the pieces of grilled fish with the peach salsa. Garnish with cilantro (or parsley) sprigs and a lime wedge to squeeze over top. Serve immediately.
Tips and Variations
- If made in a grill skillet, heat the pan until it is sizzling hot. Sear the halibut for 90 seconds on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until the fish is opaque in the centre or flakes easily when pierced with a fork.
- For indoor grilling, I like the De’Longhi Livenza All-Day Grill. It’s got a non-stick cooking surface and cooks evenly without hotspots.
- If you use a small grill pan, try not to crowd the pan. Grill the portions of fish in batches of two at a time.
- If using an outdoor barbecue grill, try not to flip the fish over more than once.
- For a tropical twist, substitute diced, fresh mango or even pineapple for some of the peaches.
- You can make the peach salsa up to five days in advance and store it in the fridge. Because the peaches are cooked, it won’t discolour. Just bring it to room temperature when you’re ready to grill and serve the fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you grill halibut without drying it out?
The key to grilling halibut without it becoming dry is to be sure not to overcook it. It cooks much faster than chicken so you need to be vigilant and remove it from the grill as soon as it’s done. Fish will continue to cook after it’s removed from the plate so even if you remove it from the grill a bit early the internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees.
As well, use liberal amounts of olive oil when cooking. Serving it with a sauce also helps keep it moist.
Do you rinse halibut before cooking?
There is no need to rinse halibut before cooking it. According to the FDA’s Food Safety in Your Kitchen guide, simply keep seafood separate from produce when shopping and during storage. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling it. Washing halibut adds moisture to the fish which will increase the likelihood of it sticking to the grill.
Do you leave the skin on halibut when grilling?
If you’ve purchased halibut with the skin on it, then grill it with the skin side down first. Be sure to brush the skin carefully with a paper towel to remove any lingering scales before you grill it.
Many people enjoy the taste of crispy, caramelized fish skin but I always remove the skin before serving.
More Grilling Ideas and Side Dishes To Try
- Grilled Beef Steak in Beer Marinade with Salsa Fresca
- Black Beans and Rice
- Mexican Green Rice – Arroz Verde
Perfect 15-Minute Grilled Halibut with Peach Salsa
- Medium Saucepan
- 2 large peaches
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red onions finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1/4 large sweet red pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 4 4 ounce pieces of halibut filet
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 fresh lime
- Preheat the gas grill on medium-high for 10 minutes. While it's heating, prepare the salsa.
- Blanch peaches by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Quickly remove them with tongs (or a slotted spoon) and plunge them into an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water). You'll then be able to slip the skin off the peaches without using a peeler or knife. Then remove the pits and chop into small pieces.
- Score the ends of each tomato crosswise. Blanch by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Quickly remove them with tongs (or a slotted spoon) and plunge them into an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water). You'll then be able to peel the tomatoes easily with a knife. Then chop into small pieces.
- Peel the onion, seed the peppers and chop all the vegetables into small pieces. Wear gloves when chopping the hot peppers. Chop the cilantro finely, reserving a few sprigs for the garnish.
- Combine all vegetable ingredients in a medium saucepan. Add the vinegar, honey and spices. Stir. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. The salsa should be cooked but not mushy.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature while you grill the fish.
Grill the Halibut
- Preheat the barbecue to medium-high. Clean the grill with a wire brush. Brush the grids generously with vegetable or olive oil.
- Portion your halibut by cutting it with a sharp knife into 4 pieces of four ounces each. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel.
- Brush both sides of each halibut filet with extra virgin olive oil.
- Sprinkle the fish with sea salt.
- Place the fish on the hot, oiled grill and grill until browned on one side, around 4 minutes. Slip a spatula between the fish and the grid and turn the fish over. Grill for another 3 to 4 minutes, until opaque in the centre. Halibut takes around 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness to cook.
- Or, if made in a grill skillet, heat the pan until it is sizzling hot. Sear the halibut for 90 seconds on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the fish is opaque in the centre or flakes easily when pierced with a fork.The internal temperature should be 145°F or 63°C. But remember that fish will continue to cook once removed from the heat so you can remove it a bit early and allow it to rest on the plate for a few minutes.
- Serve the fish on individual plates or on a platter topped with spoonfuls of peach salsa. Garnish with lime wedges on the side.
- For the best salsa, be sure to use fully ripe fruit. It should be firm and fragrant. The blush colour of a peach indicates the variety of peach not its ripeness.
- Peaches will continue to ripen once picked. So if your produce is hard as a rock, you can speed up the ripening process by placing the fruit in a fruit ripening bowl or inside a loosely closed brown paper bag on your counter. Refrigerate peaches only after they are ripe.
- Try not to chop the fruit too finely. You're aiming for a texture like a chutney rather than a sauce.
- Always wear gloves when chopping raw hot peppers like jalapeño! Hot peppers contain capsaicin which can cause your skin to feel as though it's burning.
- You can make the peach salsa up to five days in advance. Store it covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature prior to serving.
- Be sure to remove excess moisture from the fish before grilling so it doesn't stick to the grill. There's no need to wash fish or soak it before cooking.
- If your halibut comes with the skin on, grill it with the skin side down first. Then flip it over. Remove the skin prior to serving.
- If using an outdoor barbecue grill, try not to flip the fish over more than once.
- If you use a grill pan on your stove top, try not to crowd the pan. Grill the portions of fish in batches of two at a time.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
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