Friday, July 06, 2012

Recipe for Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Paleo)

If you have leftovers of this Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime, use it to make fish tacos!

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  This delicious recipe for grilled halibut is something I made regularly back in the days I was organizing houseboat trips, and it's still one of my favorite marinades for grilled fish.)

Imagine you're sitting on the top deck of a houseboat looking out at the beautiful scenery of Utah's gorgeous Lake Powell while you're eating a wonderful dinner featuring this Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime.   That's the memory I had when I sat on my deck eating this a few days ago.  The marinade is perfect for halibut, but you can use any kind of mild white fish that's firm enough to stay together on the grill.  And the leftover fish is perfect for making fish tacos (if you have any leftovers!)

I do want to say just a bit about marinating fish before you grill it. Often meats are marinated to tenderize, but when you're marinating fish it's just to add flavor, so don't marinate the fish too long.  That's especially important with a marinade that has lime or lemon juice because the marinade will start to "cook" the fish.  Because they're used for short marinating times, fish marinades are often stronger than those designed for beef, pork, or chicken, but you can reduce the spices in this a little if it seems like too much for you.  I'm a huge fan of cumin, so I used the whole 2 teaspoons of cumin, and really loved that flavor.

Zest the skin of one small lime.  You can use a fine cheese grater to do this if you don't have a microplane grater like this, but this is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

Mix together the lime juice, peanut or canola oil, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder or grated onion, garlic puree, ground cumin, lime zest, and black pepper to make the marinade.

Put the fish pieces into a Ziploc bag or a flat plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, pour in the marinade, and let it marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours (but not much longer than that.)

Oil the grill and preheat to medium high.  If you want nice diagonal marks, lay the fish at an angle to the grill grates.  (I can't seem to quite get the white balance right on these grill shots taken under the covered part of my deck.  Photographers, feel free to chime in with suggestions!)

Then as soon as you see grill marks have formed (I lift up the edge and check) rotate the fish so it's going the opposite way.  For a nice hot grill, the grill marks take about 3 minutes each way, for a total of 6 minutes cooking on the first side.

Then turn the fish over carefully and cook on the second side until the fish feels firm (but not hard) to the touch.  Total cooking time for grilled fish is about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  This was perfectly done in 10 minutes.  Serve hot, with extra cut limes to squeeze on if desired.

Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime
(Makes enough marinade for 3-4 halibut pieces; I made this recipe for years at Lake Powell but I can't remember if I created the recipe or found it in a cookbook somewhere.)

3-4 halibut steaks or filets

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup oil of your choice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. onion powder or 2 T grated fresh onion
1 tsp. garlic puree or minced fresh garlic 
1-2 tsp. ground cumin (I used 2 tsp. but if you don't love cumin you might want less)
zest from one small lime (at least 1 tsp. grated lime rind)
1/2  tsp. coarse ground black pepper
fresh cut limes for squeezing on cooked fish (optional)


Zest the lime, using a mircroplane grater or the finest side of a cheese grater.  Mix marinade ingredients. Place fish in single layer in a Ziploc bag or a flat plastic container with a snap-tight lid and marinate 2-4 hours in refrigerator. (Don't marinate too long or the lime juice will start to "cook" the fish.)

When you're ready to grill, take the fish out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.  Oil the grill grates (I use a paper towel with some oil poured on.)  Preheat grill to medium hot.  (You can only hold your hand there for a couple of seconds at that heat.)

If you're going for diagonal grill marks, lay the fish on the hot grill at an angle to the grill grates and cook until grill marks appear on the first side.  (I usually lift up one piece of fish and check.)  When you see the grill marks (about 3 minutes) rotate the fish in the other direction and cook until you see the second set of grill marks appear.   Then use a large turner to carefully turn fish to the second side and cook until it's just firm (not hard) to the touch.  As a general rule, grilled fish takes about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  I cooked the fish in these photos for a total of 10 minutes and it was perfect.

Serve hot, with fresh cut limes to squeeze on the fish if desired.  

I've made this mostly with halibut but any kind of mild white fish which is substantial enough to hold up on the grill would work here.

South Beach Suggestions:
Grilled fish like this is not only delicious, it's perfect for any phase of the South Beach Diet, or anyone who's eating a low-glycemic diet for any reason.  I ate this with a simple salad of lettuce, mini-cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.  For phase two you could add Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi or Lake Powell Spicy Rice.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Delicious Ideas for Grilled Fish:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Grilled Garlic Basil Halibut from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Fish with Green Mango Pico de Gallo from [No Recipes]

Herb Encrusted Grilled Salmon from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Fish and Zucchini with Herb Aioli
 from Pink of Perfection

Grilled Salmon Packets with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic, Thyme, and Saffron from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Red Snapper from White on Rice Couple

Grilled Salmon with Asian Dipping Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Fish with Creamy Mustard Sauce from Fearless Kitchen

Grilled Spicy Tuna from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Halibut Filets from Eating Etc.

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. YUM! When can I come over??

  2. Julie, ANY TIME!! (Seriously, I would love to have a guest from Canada!)

  3. I love a good piece of fish with a citrus marinade -- like you said -- just enough to give it a nice flavor. It cooks so quickly on the grill, too. This sounds like a great recipe.

  4. Thanks Kelly! (Why don't you come on up for dinner when Julie comes?)

  5. Can I come too?! Wow. I love fish on the grill.

  6. Lindsey, would LOVE to have you! (And I could finally meet you and you'd love meeting Julie and Kelly. They're both so great!)

  7. I can never get those fancy grill marks!

  8. Pam, having the grill super hot when you put the meat on is key!

  9. what's the salad with it?

  10. I love fish and cumin and lime together are wonderful--yum! Great point on marinating fish, too, Kalyn. I've seen recipes with directions to marinate for an hour or more. I didn't have an hour so I marinated for 15 to 20 minutes or so while doing other dinner prep and the results were perfect. :-) Thanks for another great, healthy recipe!


  11. Beautiful presentation and it definitely looks deliciously good. I wonder though if using kalamansi would have the same result. I guess I'll find out soon. :)

  12. Looks fabulous. So does the salad next to it. What is that?

  13. Christine, thanks!

    Berneda and Anonymous, the salad isn't really a recipe; it's just mini-cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and romaine lettuce tossed with some blue cheese dressing. I buy Lighthouse Blue Cheese and mix it half and half with buttermilk to make it lower in saturated fat so it's South Beach friendly. It also makes the dressing thinner so you don't need so much to coat the greens.

    Shirley, so glad you liked it. And thanks for telling me about the typo! (Very odd, because the url is correct and I didn't remember changing the title, but I must have.)

    Jenn, I'm not familiar with Kalamansi, but any type of mild white fish will work as long as it's solid enough to hold together on the grill.

  14. Love, love, love this recipe, Kalyn. I am always looking for healthy fish recipes. Yes, you are bringing back delicious memories of your houseboat be there now, lounging on the upper deck watching the scenery go by while listening to our favorite music. What were some of those sounds?

  15. Wanda, I agree; wish we were there right now! I remember listening to "Reggae Nights" by Jimmy Cliff over and over until everyone was ready to kill me. Lots of other reggae artists too. Also The Pretenders!

  16. I love fish tacos and this looks perfect for them. But, I don't have a grill/bbq so do you think this would be better broiled (or grilled as they say over in the UK) or pan fried?

  17. Catherine if you don't have an outdoor grill, I think broiling would work very well. BTW, I have a recipe coming for how I turned this into fish tacos with a sauce that really worked well.

  18. This looks simply delicious! Fantastic marinade.

  19. Miri, so glad you like the marinade.

  20. This looks DELICIOUS! Thanks for posting! I'm always on the lookout for new fish recipes.

  21. Love halibut, love cumin never put them together. So lets give this a try then. The lime is going to be a nice touch instead of the usual lemon you have with some fish dishes.

  22. My gf and I did this over marinade over the weekend with salmon on the grill. Excellent!

  23. Glad you liked it, and good to know it worked well with salmon.

  24. That looks like a perfect beat-the-heat meal!

  25. I'm not nuts about Worcestershire, so I don't keep it in my pantry, but I think I could skip that ingredient still have a GREAT piece of fish!

  26. Definitely you could leave out the Worcestershire, or sub a little soy sauce.


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips