Cumin-Crusted Halibut with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

Mains, Recipes

Here, cumin, smoked paprika and other bold spices in the rub join a chunky tomatillo salsa to deliver an explosion of flavors to mild-tasting halibut. Grilling tomatillos mellows their natural acidity. Skip the grilling and serve them raw if you prefer a tangier flavor.


Cumin-Crusted Halibut with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa




For the grilled tomatillo salsa:

  • 7 large tomatillos, papery husks removed
  • 1 jalapeño chile, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt

For the cumin crust rub:

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 halibut fillets, each about 6 oz. (180 g) and 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)



1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grill grate.


2. Place the tomatillos and chile on the grate and grill, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Place in a blender, add the lime juice and olive oil, and pulse until combined but still chunky. Pour into a bowl, stir in the cilantro and season with salt. Set aside.


3. To make the rub, in a small, dry fry pan over low heat, toast the cumin, stirring often, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Pour onto a plate and let cool. In an airtight container, combine the cumin, paprika, brown sugar, coriander, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Cover and shake vigorously to mix.


4. Brush the fish on both sides with the mayonnaise, coating it evenly. Sprinkle each fillet all over with the rub, using about 1 1/2 tsp. per fillet. (Reserve the remaining rub for other uses. Store it in the covered container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.)


5. Place the fish on the grill rack directly over the fire and cook, turning once, until just opaque throughout and the fish flakes easily when prodded gently with a fork, about 4 minutes per side.


6. Transfer the fillets to a platter or individual plates and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with the tomatillo salsa alongside. Serves 6.





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Cumin-Crusted Halibut with Grilled Tomatillo Salsa
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