Pan Roasted Halibut or Sablefish with Spiced Honey Gastrique

2010 May/Jun

Think of this gastrique – a quick sauce – as a substitute for a wedge of lemon since it’s nicely acidic. To drink with this dish, open an aromatic white wine with residual sweetness and acid, a riesling or viognier.



  • 6 6-oz. halibut steaks or sablefish fillets
  • 1/2 t. cracked fennel or anise seed
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling


  • 6 T. wildflower honey
  • 2/3 c. white wine
  • 6 – 8 T. champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 t. cracked pepper
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1/2 t. cracked fennel or anise seed
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. minced fresh tarragon


Heat the oven to 450°F. Preheat a lightly oiled cast-iron or heavy stainless steel pan in the oven. Sprinkle the fish with the fennel or anise seed and the salt and pepper. Slide the steaks into the hot pan, drizzle the fish with olive oil and roast it, uncovered, for 12 minutes per inch of thickness.

While the fish is roasting, make the gastrique. Heat the honey in a sauté pan over high heat. After its water content bubbles off, caramelize the honey to dark amber. Add the wine and boil to reduce the liquid by half. Add the vinegar, spices, shallot and garlic. Reduce the sauce by one-third. Pick out the star anise. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, salt and tarragon. Serve the fish with a generous drizzle of gastrique.

Serves 6.