Saffron and Orange Poached Halibut Recipe

Saffron and Orange Poached Halibut Recipe
Staff Writer
Saffron and Orange Poached Halibut

Peggy Bourjaily

Saffron and Orange Poached Halibut

Saffron is one of those intimidating spices that many people love to eat, but have no idea how to handle. Handpicked stamens of the crocus sativus, saffron is also somewhat rare and very expensive, costing anywhere from $500 to $5000 a pound. Luckily, you only need a pinch or two to add tremendous saffron flavor to a meal. Adding saffron to risotto and other rice dishes is a great way to start experimenting with it. When buying saffron, make sure the threads are bright red and dry.

Served on a bed of sautéed spinach, this dish has very little fat and loads of healthy protein and iron. The subtle flavor of saffron, orange, and garlic add a punch to the dish without adding a ton of calories.


  • 2 pinches saffron
  • Equal parts water and white wine (enough to cover the halibut by 1 inch)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (1-2 oranges), plus orange segments of 1 orange
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8-10 sprigs Italian parsley, plus a handful of leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons pepper
  • 1 pound halibut fillet, cut into 4equal pieces with the skin removed
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • ¼ cup red onion very thinly sliced, for garnish


Set a deep sauté pan (big enough to hold all 4 of the halibut fillets in 1 layer) over medium-high heat. Add the saffron and cook for about 10 seconds. Pour in the white wine, water, and orange juice. Add the zest, garlic, and parsley sprigs. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down until barely simmering with very little movement in the liquid. Add the halibut fillets, cover the pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes until the fillets are just cooked through. After 5 minutes, check constantly as overcooked halibut won’t taste good. Remove halibut fillets to a plate.

Pour off most of the cooking liquid and remove the parsley sprigs. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove to a platter.

Top the spinach with the halibut fillets. Top the halibut fillets with the orange segments, parsley leaves, and red onion slices.

Saffron Shopping Tip

Spices and dried herbs have a shelf life too, and lose potency over time. The rule of thumb is, if your spices are over two years old, it's time to buy some new ones.

Saffron Cooking Tip

Toasting whole spices before using them intensifies their aroma and flavor.