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Sous Vide Poached Halibut in Butter a Lighter Recipe

Until recently, I had never poached anything solely in butter. When Provence WineZine friends Susan and Towny gave me some vanilla salt, I wanted to use it as a finishing salt for halibut poached in butter. I googled “butter poached halibut” and was alarmed to find that fully submerging four fillets required two pounds of melted butter. Two pounds! To me, that’s a lot of pastry that would never get made. I needed an alternative cooking method, and finally, I came upon one recipe that butter-poached the fish using sous vide. Continue reading here for the original Cocoa and Lavender article and photos.

Sous Vide Poached Halibut in Butter

Butter Poached Halibut with Lime-Vanilla Sauce

David Scott Allen | Cocoa & Lavender
A delicious and new way to enjoy Halibut. This Halibut recipe includes the right amount of butter to enjoy without guilt!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 4 people


  • 4 6 oz pieces Halibut Fillet skin removed
  • 2 Limes zest finely grated and juiced
  • Vanilla Salt or sea salt
  • 10 tbsp Unsalted Butter divided
  • 1 cup Late-Harvest Dessert Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla


  • Set the four fillets on a cutting board and evenly zest one of the limes over the fillets. Season well with vanilla salt (or sea salt). Turn the fillets and repeat the seasoning process using the second lime and more salt.
  • Cut 4 separate tablespoons of the unsalted butter and, using your fingers, flatten them to better match the size of the halibut fillets. Place each fillet into a vacuum-sealing bag, then place one flattened piece of the butter against the skinned side of each fillet. Vacuum seal each bag, and place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the lime and salt to permeate the flesh. During this time, using the sous vide wand, bring the water temperature to 125°F. (See notes if you don’t have a sous vide wand.)
  • After 30 minutes, place the halibut fillets into the sous vide bath for 45 minutes (at 125°F). While they cook, juice the limes and measure 1/4 cup of strained lime juice. Reserve any remaining lime juice for another purpose. Place the quarter cup of lime juice in a small saucepan and add the dessert wine and brown sugar; bring to a low boil. Cook the mixture until the liquid has reduced to around 2 tablespoons (it can be more, but not less). Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • As you near the end of the cooking time, reheat the juice/wine mixture over medium-low heat. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter at a time until smooth and creamy. After the 5th tablespoon of butter, add the vanilla and whisk well. Whisk in the final tablespoon of butter, then remove from the heat and set aside covered, to keep warm.
  • When the fish is done, heat a skillet to medium-high, then carefully transfer each fillet from its bag, skinned side up, into the skillet. The residual butter should help it brown nicely. Transfer to 4 plates, browned side up and nap the sauce over and around the fish. If desired, garnish with mint leaves.


  •  it helps to have squarish pieces of fish. Today, mine were long and skinny, and they broke, which was challenging. (See next note.)
  •  after the fish comes out of the sous vide bags, it will sometimes break into several pieces. Don’t panic — just brown those pieces and serve them as if you intended to do so (like I did!).
  • If you don’t have a sous vide wand, pan sear the fish on one side, flip the fish, then place the skillet in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to finish (though it won’t have the butter poached quality).
Keyword Fish, Halibut, Seafood Recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Boulettes de Poisson à la Marsaillaise {Marseille-Style Fish Balls}
This fish recipe was adapted from the book "Flavors from the French Mediterranean" Michelin 3-star chef Gérald Passedat. This dish can be prepared in advance and assembled when you serve.
Check out this recipe
Boulettes de Poisson Marseillaise @Cocoa&Lavender
Grilled Halibut Provencal
If you want something new to grill, try this halibut recipe! The dish can be paired with a glass of rosé from Provence.
Check out this recipe
Easy Grilled Halibut Provencal
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Mediterranean Fish Tian de legumes Vegetables @ProvenceCook
Monkfish Fillets With Tomatoes And Fresh Peas
Monkfish is a delicious fish, sometimes compared to lobster in texture. As long as your fishmonger prepares it properly, it is easy to work with, and the results are yummy.
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Filets de Lotte Recipe Garden Provence @ElizabethBard

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David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen is the author, photographer, and cook behind Cocoa & Lavender, a weekly food blog based in Tucson, Arizona. Passionate about travel, he especially enjoys eating traditional foods and learning local customs, whether in the United States or around the globe.

David's first trip to France took place when he was 14, and he returned as often as possible thereafter. However, it wasn't until his 50th birthday that he finally made it south to Provence. The beauty, history, charm, warmth, cuisine, and - of course - the rosé wines captured his heart. He shares his Provençal recipes here on Perfectly Provence, and his food and wine pairings monthly on the Provence WineZine.

David is a firm believer that sharing a meal with friends around the table is one of life's greatest pleasures. And if it happens to be in Provence, all the better!

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