This savory halibut toast features coriander-crusted halibut, crunchy fennel salad, and a fennel aioli which quite frankly makes the whole dish. All of this gets piled onto toasted ciabatta to create the infamous HALIBUT TOAST.

open-faced sandwich topped with fish and lettuce set on a blue plate on a brown wooden table

What you’ll need

How to Make Crusted Halibut 

Halibut is a firm and flaky white fish that holds up well to a variety of cooking methods. It’s delicious roasted, pan seared, and even braised. This recipe starts with pan searing and finishes in the oven for a brief roast. Together, these methods create a perfect crust and moist, flaky fish.

This crusted halibut is great on an open-faced sandwich but is also fabulous served with roasted Brussels sprouts or sauteed broccoli and crispy potatoes

  1. Brush halibut with Dijon and season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Grind the coriander seeds and mustard seeds until crushed (it’s important to crush them, not pulverize them).
  3. Dip the Dijon-coated side of the halibut in the seed mixture, pressing to evenly coat.
  4. Sear halibut, crusted side down, in an ovenproof nonstick skillet until golden brown.
  5. Flip halibut then transfer to oven to roast until cooked through and easily flakes. 

What to look for when buying fresh halibut

If you live near an ocean, freshly caught fish is almost always better than frozen. If you don’t live near the water, seek out a reliable and trustworthy fish monger or vendor. Fish sold at a seafood market will most often be fresher and better handled than fish sold at a grocery store.

Fish fillets should be evenly colored and slightly translucent. Avoid fish with streaks or dark spots. Avoid any fish that’s mushy in texture, it should spring back when lightly pressed and firm to touch. And finally, fresh fish should not smell “fishy,” it should smell fresh and clean, and slightly briny like the ocean.

open-faced sandwich topped with fish and lettuce set on a blue plate on a brown wooden table

What are coriander seeds?

Coriander seeds are the dried ripe fruit of the coriander plant which is also home to the dark leafy herb we call cilantro. Though they come from the same plant, they add two very different and distinct flavors in cooking. Coriander seeds are tiny circular seeds (⅛-inch) with a yellow-tan color. They’re fragrant and very aromatic, especially when crushed, and have a flavor that’s similar to sage, caraway and lemon. 

Whole coriander seeds can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores. 

Grinding coriander seeds

I recommend grinding the coriander seeds and mustard seeds in a spice grinder (or coffee grinder). You may be tempted to use a food processor or mini food processor, but the small amount of seeds won’t get adequately crushed in a food processor.

If you don’t have a spice grinder you can use a mortar and pestle or zipper-lock bag and meat pounder/rolling pin to crush the seeds. Both options will take longer than the spice grinder but will work nonetheless!


  • Mix up the crust! Make a Parmesan crust with grated Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs.
  • Make a nut-based crust with finely crushed almonds, pecans or macadamia nuts.
  • Keep this gluten-free and serve over your favorite gluten-free bread or crispy potatoes. 
  • Add dill or tarragon to the spring greens and/or aioli for an herby addition. 

Coriander-Crusted Halibut Toast with Fennel Aioli

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Main Dish
Cuisine American
Author Lauren Grant


Chewy toasted ciabatta gets topped with a delicious fennel aioli, lemony spring greens and fennel, and a gorgeous coriander-crusted halibut. This open-faced sandwich, aka halibut toast, makes a delicious weekday lunch or dinner. 


  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed (fronds reserved), quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups spring greens
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • ½ cup high-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 (1-pound) skinless halibut fillet, bones removed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, halved lengthwise


  • Heat oven to 425ºF with rack set in middle position.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise, garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon minced lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons Dijon. Season aioli with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. 
  • Combine fennel bulb and spring greens in a medium bowl; toss with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and set aside. 
  • Place a large oven-proof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat to preheat.
  • Pat halibut dry then brush 1 tablespoon Dijon over top of fillet; season with salt and pepper. Grind coriander and mustard seeds in a spice grinder (or coffee grinder) until crushed (but not powdered). Transfer crushed seeds to a shallow dish or plate. Dip halibut, Dijon-side down, in crushed seeds until coated and most of the seeds have adhered. 
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to preheated skillet and heat until shimmering. Add halibut, crusted side down, in skillet and cook, without moving, until golden brown, 3–4 minutes. 
  • Carefully flip fish with a spatula and transfer skill to oven; roast halibut until cooked through and easily flakes with a fork, 4–6 minutes. 
  • Brush cut side of bottom half of ciabatta with remaining tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper (reserve top half of ciabatta for another use, or toast and make this into a sandwich). Place ciabatta half, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Bake ciabatta until lightly golden brown, 4–6 minutes. 
  • Spread aioli over toasted ciabatta then cut into 4 equal pieces. Top each ciabatta piece with fennel-spring green mixter. Break halibut into large flakes and divide between toasts. 
  • Finish with fresh fennel fronds, a sprinkle of kosher or flaky sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil (optional). Serve with a lemon wedge.


Fish: can’t find halibut? Cod, mahi-mahi, grouper, pollock, haddock, or striped bass will also work. 


Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 25gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 394mgFiber: 3gSugar: 0.5g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
open-faced sandwich topped with fish and lettuce set on a blue plate on a brown wooden table

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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