Halibut Tagine with Sweet Onions Ginger and Saffron

2010 Sep/Oct

The spices in this dish are deep and complex, making them a perfect compliment to the rich buttery flesh of the halibut. Make sure to invest as much time as you can sweating the onions over low heat until they’re soft, buttery and almost melting.


  • 8 T. olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced across the grain
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful golden raisins
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1-1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1-1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 lbs halibut, cut into large chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. firm-fleshed potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 t. orange blossom water


Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 6 T. of the oil in a saucepan or stove-safe tagine over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until the onions are very soft and slightly golden. Add the garlic and raisins and cook for another 5 minutes, until the raisins have plumped. Add all of the spices and sauté until fragrant, then add the water. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Place the fish on a baking tray and season generously with salt and pepper, drizzle with the remaining 2 T. olive oil and set aside. Toss the potatoes with salt and let rest for a couple of minutes, then add them to the onion mixture. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan or tagine big enough to accommodate the fish, cover and put in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender but still slightly firm and about 10 minutes from being finished. The fish is added last so that it will not be overcooked by the time the potatoes are finished cooking. Gently stir in the halibut and cook for about 10 minutes, until the fish turns opaque and flakes easily. Remove the tagine from the oven, sprinkle with orange blossom water and serve with couscous or a green salad. Serves 4.