Grilled Halibut Tail


Blue Water Cafe Executive Chef Frank Pabst

Celebrate Spring and the arrival of halibut season with Chef Pabst’s seasonally-inspired recipe, found in his iconic and award-winning cookbook, Blue Water Cafe: Seafood. Get ready as friends and family will request regular remakes of this dish!

Serves 4


  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Tbsp pickling salt
  • 2 cups plump green Nasturtium seeds
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar

Pickled Nasturtium seeds are similar to capers. The seeds must be pickled for a month before using, and the best nasturtium seeds for pickling are those in half-ripened pods that are still green, picked as soon as the nasturtium flowers wilt and fall off. You may be able to find nasturtium seeds at farmer’s markets or you can grow them yourself. If neither of these options are possible, substitute capers for the pickled nasturtium seeds. Nigella seeds are a spice with a slightly bitter taste; they are available from Asian food stores.

In a medium saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil until salt is completely dissolved. Allow to cool, then refrigerate this brine. Add Nasturtium seeds and soak for 24 hours.

Sterilize a 4-cup pickling jar by submerging it in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool and air dry on a rack at room temperature. Drain the seeds, but do not rinse them. In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil. Pack the seeds into the pickling jar, then add hot vinegar and seal the jar tightly. Store the jar in a cool place for 1 month before using.


  • 8 small Fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 20 pearl onions, peeled
  • Tail end of a halibut, 10 inches long, skin on but fin removed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp Nigella seeds
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chiffonaded
  • 2 cups pea tendrils
  • 1 lemon, in wedges

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Add potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes until tender. Remove the potatoes from the water using a slotted spoon and set them aside. Add cauliflower to the boiling water and cook until it is done but still has some bite, about 2 minutes. Drain.

In a small saute pan, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil on low heat. Add pearl onions and roast until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill to high. Lightly brush a plate with olive oil. Wash the halibut tail, then pat it dry with a kitchen towel and brush it with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place it, white-side down, on the grill for 10 minutes. Using two large spatulas, transfer the tail from the grill onto the oiled plate. Carefully flip the tail. Clean the grill, then heat it up again on high heat. Slide the halibut tail back onto the grill, this time dark-side down. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for another 15 minutes.

Using the two spatulas, transfer the tail from the grill onto a large serving platter. Cover the tail with aluminum foil. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the butter in a large sauté pan until butter starts to brown. Add cauliflower florets and Fingerling potatoes and cook 5 to 10 minutes until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in Pearl onions, Nigella seeds and parsley. Add pea tendrils and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.


  • 4 oz Golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 oz pickled Nasturtium seeds, rinsed
  • Handful of Nasturtium leaves

Place raisins and vermouth in a small heat proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then set aside and allow to soak for 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat sugar on medium heat until it becomes a light caramel colour, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the saucepan with vinegar. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add raisins, Nasturtium seeds and leaves. Using a blender, emulsify this mixture.


Remove the aluminum foil from the fish, then arrange the cauliflower mixture around the dish.

Serve directly from the platter or, to serve on individual plates, discard the halibut skin, and slide the fillets off the bone. On each of four plates, place half a fillet, then spoon a quarter of the golden raisin and pickled nasturtium sauce beside it. Ladle a quarter of the cauliflower mixture alongside each serving of halibut tail. Serve with a plate of lemon wedges.

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar’s Wine Director William Mulholland suggests pairing this dish with Rudi Pilcher Gruner Veltliner.