Pan-Seared Halibut with Cilantro Herb Sauce (Photo courtesy Jon Koobation)

Jon Koobation’s Pan-Seared Halibut with Cilantro Herb Sauce


FRESNO — Fresno’s award-winning Chef Jon Koobation says, “Halibut is among the tastiest fish you can eat, and some would argue that it’s THE best-tasting fish. The majority of halibut in the United States is sourced from Alaska — which I love because it’s sustainably caught. A naturally lean and light fish, Alaska Halibut has earned its well-deserved reputation as the world’s premium whitefish. Combining a sweet, delicate flavor with firm texture and a pure, snow white flesh, Alaska Halibut is a natural for a variety of signature dishes and attractive plate presentations and sweet, delicate flavor. The main reason we love halibut so much is that it’s incredibly versatile but also very easy to cook.”

Jon was the chef/proprietor, owner and head chef at the acclaimed Jon’s Bear Club in Reedley, California, for several decades until his retirement in 2013.

“Halibut is a healthy menu choice for lunch or dinner. It’s delicious baked, grilled, poached, or steamed. Fresh halibut season runs from March through mid-November, when you’ll find it fresh in markets. To ensure the most delicious fish, you want it to be as fresh as possible. It should be mild-smelling with no strong ‘fishy’ odors. The flesh should be firm and vibrant in color, not dull, milky, or mushy.”

“Using the freshest seasonal ingredients and attention to detail when creating each menu item was appreciated by our Jon’s Bear Club patrons through the years, and one of the main reasons so many of them chose to return again and again,” he adds.

Chef Jon Koobation prepares a special family dinner in his Fresno kitchen (Photo courtesy Jon Koobation)

Here’s Jon’s signature recipe for Pan-Seared Halibut with Cilantro Herb Sauce that is sure to please your family and guests at your next dinner party or celebration, he says.


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2 lbs. Alaska halibut

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 large lemon and lemon zest

1/2 cup dry white wine, to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Kosher or sea salt and coarse black pepper, to taste

2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

One small bunch chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Fresh dill

Fresh lemon wedges

Olive oil



First, make the Cilantro Herb Sauce: Add chopped cilantro (or parsley), lemon juice, and zest buzzed to a blender with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend these ingredients for about a minute until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.

In a large, shallow dish, combine minced garlic, lemon juice, wine and olive oil.

Use a sharp knife to cut halibut into 4 equal portions. Place portions into the dish with the marinade, turning to coat. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Remove halibut from the marinade and season with salt and pepper.

Place halibut filets in the hot pan and cook until a golden crust forms on the bottom of the fish, about 3-5 minutes. Try not to move the fish around the pan a lot until the crust forms to decrease sticking. Flip fish and cook on the other side until cooked through, another 3-5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130-135°F (for medium).

Add butter to the pan and let it melt, then spoon it over the top of the fish. Spread the Cilantro Herb Sauce on each plate, and place the halibut on top. Serve with fresh coleslaw. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh dill.

Suggestion: Try baking halibut on baking sheets in the oven at 400 to 450°F until halibut is just opaque and flesh flakes when cut with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes. Or poach halibut in tomato sauce or a broth flavored with lemon and white wine, or butter, garlic, and parsley.

Serves 4.


Fresh Coleslaw


2-3 cups shredded green cabbage

1 cup shredded red cabbage

2 large carrots, grated

2 medium scallions, thin sliced

2 tablespoons rough cut cilantro

In a large enough bowl, combine all the ingredients.


1/3 cup light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice + the zest

1/2 teaspoon Truvia or to taste

1/2 teaspoon coriander or celery seeds

Salt and cracked black pepper

Whisk the dressing together and adjust seasoning. Combine the dressing with the coleslaw and mix well.

Serves 4.

Cooking With Jon is a comprehensive collection of some of his favorite recipes through the years, and the favorites of many of his patrons at the acclaimed Jon’s Bear Club before he retired. Also included are wonderful photos to go with the recipes — photos that make you feel like you could just reach down and pick up the delicious food. Some of Jon’s recipes included are: Charred Asparagus Roll-Ups, New York Steak, Lobster Bisque, Tortilla Crusted Salmon, Shish Kebab, and how to make your own kettle corn at home.

But this book is way more than just a cookbook — it is a walk down memory lane for Jon about his life growing up in the Central Valley in an Armenian family — interspersed among the recipes are these very interesting stories. Stories of how he came to be a chef, of his love for racing, what it was like going from just being the chef to owning his own restaurant, and his lifetime love of food and family. “Cooking has been my passion in life. It has filled my life with joy,” says Jon.

ORDER TODAY: Enjoy professional recipes you can make at home from one of Fresno’s most highly respected and celebrated chefs.

Contact Jon at: to order his cookbook and for a personally signed copy. His cookbook is also available for sale at The Market Grocery Store and at Sam’s Deli & Cucina in Fresno.

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