Baked Halibut with Tarragon Cream Sauce is a dish you would order in a fine French restaurant and yet it’s so easy to prepare.
The inspiration for this dish came from Lavendou, a wonderful French restaurant in Dallas. No, I didn’t have halibut, I had Filet of Sole with a rich butter sauce and my husband had Arctic Char with a creamy pepper sauce. And I began to think about these sauces and how they really make a simple dish unbelievably great.
So I substituted the sole for rich and wonderful halibut. Always a treat. And I knew that a creamy Tarragon butter sauce would be perfect with it. After all the French often use cream, butter, wine, mustard, shallots and herbs in their dishes, so that combination would be what this halibut would need to make it even better.
I think once you make this baked halibut, you’ll make again and again. Why? Lots of reasons. First, it melts in your mouth with silky deliciousness. Next, it’s a menu item you would expect to find at the finest restaurants in Paris. And, finally, here comes the best reason: It’s so incredibly easy and quick to make. In fact you can prepare this dish in under 15 minutes.
Think about it. In less time than it takes to order a pizza or make Mac and cheese, you can serve this restaurant-worthy dinner.
The secret is to start with a great white fish. I used halibut because I absolutely love it. It’s an incredibly decadent and rich tasting fish. But the truth is halibut’s pretty expensive. So feel free to substitute another type of fish.
So let’s make it.
Ingredients for Baked Halibut with Tarragon Cream Sauce
- Halibut: The Star of the Show
- Sea salt: For flavor
- Pepper: For a touch of spiciness
- Shallots: For more flavor
- Ghee: Clarified Butter for a high smoking point to sauté the fillets and the shallots
- Wine: The tang of the wine really makes this sauce
- Tarragon: For a slightly minty, licorice taste
- Butter: To add rich emulsification to the sauce
- Creme Fraiche: The French clotted Cream that is perfect in this sauce
- Dijon Mustard: The spicy king of mustards
How to Make Baked Halibut with Tarragon Cream Sauce
First preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
Then add 2 Tsp of the ghee to an oven proof frypan over medium high heat. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the halibut fillets and add them to the hot pan. Let them cook for about 3 minutes without turning them over.
Add the pan to the oven and let the fish bake for 4 minutes. When time is up remove the pan from the oven, flip the fillets over and add to a plate. Then cover them with foil to keep them warm.
Next it’s time to make the sauce. Just add the remaining 1 Tsp of ghee to the same frypan you baked the fillets in and turn the heat to medium high.
Then when hot add the minced shallots. Let them caramelize about 1-2 minutes, then add the white wine to deglaze the pan along with the Tarragon.
Continue to cook the sauce for another 3 minutes to reduce the sauce. Then whisk in the butter a bit at a time and continue to whisk as you add in the Creme Fraiche and the Dijon Mustard.
Your sauce is almost done. At this point you’ll notice that it’s still a bit chunky. To make it silky smooth just put a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the sauce into the sieve.
With a rubber spatula, press the sauce through the sieve. Be sure to scrape off the extra sauce at the bottom of the sieve. You don’t want to lose any of the wonderful sauce.
To plate the halibut, spoon a generous Tbsp into your serving plate and spread the sauce with the back of the spoon. Then add a halibut fillet on top of the sauce. Finish it with additional minced Tarragon leaves and serve.
Notes on the Ingredients
As I mentioned earlier, you certainly can substitute other fish for the halibut. For instance cod could substitute nicely. The cooking times, though, will vary depending on the thickness of your fish. In this recipe the halibut was over 1/2” thick. You can usually find cod at this same thickness, but If it’s a thinner fillet, just take a minute off the baking time. You never want to overcook fish.
For those who would prefer not to have the wine, you can substitute chicken broth. The flavor will be a little different. With chicken broth, even with low sodium, you’ll find that the sauce will be a little saltier and the flavor will be more subtle.
The ghee is easily found in most grocery stores. My go-to place for ghee is Trader Joe’s. The quality is excellent and the price is right. I always keep a stock on hand.
Baked Halibut with Tarragon Cream Sauce
- 8 Oz Halibut fillet Cut in half
- 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt Prefer Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
- 1/4 Tsp Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Ghee
- 1 Shallot Minced
- 1/4 Cup White wine Low sodium chicken broth can substitute
- 1 Tbsp Tarragon leaves, fresh 1 Tsp dried tarragon can substitute
- 2 Tbsp Butter Cut in small squares
- 2 Tbsp Creme Fraiche
- 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Add 2 Tsp Ghee to an ovenproof frypan over medium high heat. When hot, add halibut and cook undisturbed 3 minutes. Do not trun over. Add frypan to oven and bake 4 minutes. When time is up remove from the oven, flip halibut fillets over and add to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Add remaining ghee to frypan and turn the heat to medium high. Add shallots and saute 1-2 minutes to slightly caramelize. Whisk in white wine and tarragon. Allow to reduce 3 minutes. Then whisk in butter, a bit at a time. And continue to whisk in creme fraiche and Dijon mustard.
- Place a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the sauce into the sieve. With a rubber spatula, press the sauce through the sieve.
- On a serving plate, add half of the sauce to the plate and spread with the back of the spoon. Place a halibut fillet on the sauce. Sprinkle with additional minced tarragon and serve.
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Halibut with Lemon Cream Sauce
I was JUST reading about how healthy halibut is (https://qualityseafooddelivery.com/2021/01/15/halibut-healthy/) and stumbled across this recipe. I had everything in my fridge (except the halibut!), so I decided to make this on a whim over the weekend. The flavors are amazing! I would have never thought to pair halibut and tarragon. 5-star recipe!
So glad you liked this recipe, Gertrude! Tarragon is an amazing spice, so mild that it doesn’t overpower the mildness of fish. Discovered this long ago at a fabulous restaurant on the Oregon coast where, for brunch, they offered smoked scallops with taragon sauce. Surprisingly, even with the light smoke flavor the flavors blended beautifully. Thanks for taking the time to comment.