This was one of those meals that I had on the menu week after week, but it kept getting pushed back for various reasons.  Busy day at work, too tired, kids rough, etc. etc.  You know how it goes.  I think the title and appearance of this meal made it seem much more involved than it actually is, and so it was easy to excuse away.  Finally I decided enough was enough and this meal was going to happen, darn it.  And you know what?  Let’s break it down: Cajun seasoning blend for the fish – very easy, takes seconds to whip up.  Dirty rice – sauté the mix-ins, stir in the rice and liquid, and cook.  Easy.  Praline sauce – toast pecans, cook sugar and water, mix in remaining ingredients.  Voilà!

It’s not all that complicated but it is delicious.  The combination of components may seem a bit strange but they all come together to make a wonderful meal.  I’ve been coming around to savory dishes with sweet accompaniments and this dish got me even closer to loving the idea.  The contrast of the sweet topping with the spicy fish and savory rice somehow just works.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.  Just don’t put it off as long as I did.


For the dirty rice:
1 link Italian sausage, casing removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup long grain white rice
1½ cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped scallions

For the praline sauce:
½ cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. whiskey (or apple juice)

For the fish:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tbsp. fresh thyme
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 halibut fillets (about 6 oz. each)


  • 01

    Preheat the grill to medium-high.

  • 02

    To make the dirty rice, crumble the sausage into a skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the olive oil, onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook until just softened, 2-3 minutes more.  Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute.  Mix in the broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir in the scallions.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

  • 03

    While the rice is cooking, make the praline sauce.  Toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the pecans to a plate and set aside.  Return the pan to medium heat.  Combine the sugar and water, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the toasted pecans and salt, and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey until smooth.  The sauce may thicken upon standing, but can be rewarmed over low heat.

  • 04

    To prepare the fish, combine the oil, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend.  Pat the mixture over both sides of the fish.

  • 05

    Oil the grates of the grill.  Grill until the fish is cooked through and the fillets release easily, about 3 minutes per side.  Serve over the dirty rice and topped with the warm praline sauce.


  • Nicole G

    I tend to put off a lot of recipes for those same reasons. This dish is very similar to a dish I had a week ago at a local Cajun restaurant, except that dish was served with catfish. Needless to say, I loved it and am excited to try this one out! Thanks! I love the how your picture shows all the distinct textures in the dish! Just beautiful!

  • YUM! This looks delicious :) Definitely bookmarking this, thanks for sharing.

  • Sounds yummy! As a vegetarian I think this would be awesome with tofu in place of the halibut. Thanks for sharing!! :) Peace, Stephanie

  • Dan

    This looks amazing, fortuitously I bought halibut from the market yesterday and may pop to the grocery store to get the other ingredients I need for this. But before I do a quick question, was this particularly spicy? My Girlfriend for health reasons, temporally can’t eat spicy food (a real pain) so I won’t be able to cook it if she can’t eat it.

    Although I guess swapping the standard grocery store paprika for the smoked paprika would reduce its spiciness even if it did reduce the flavour

  • Annie

    No, it’s really not all that spicy at all. But of course, you could add spice to your piece of fish and then just lightly season hers if you are truly worried. Enjoy!

  • Heather E

    This looks great–I will have to try it. Dirty rice, however, normally has liver in it–that’s what makes it “dirty.” I’ve been meaning to try making dirty rice, so I can add it to my Cajun repertoire.

  • Annie

    Eh, I’m not one for the rigid definitions of what foods should or shouldn’t be. I just like foods that taste good and leave the technicalities to those who are interested in that sort of thing.

  • I recently made red beans and rice and now I am craving all sorts of Cajun inspired foods, so this looks absolutely perfect to me.

  • This looks wonderful! I’ve already printed it out – maybe dinner next week! And while it seems to have a lot of ingredients, they’re mostly things I keep on hand anyway.

  • This looks wonderful! I’ve already printed it out – maybe dinner next week! And while it seems to have a lot of ingredients, they’re mostly things I keep on hand anyway.

  • Wow looks really good! :) I love blackened fish! It doesn’t sound to spicy, I love hot stuff, but my husband doesn’t.. :)

  • I’m glad you finally got around to trying it, and that you liked it as much as we did! I should make it again this summer; it’s one of Joey’s favorites…

  • I love this combination of savory and sweet! My grandmother is a huge fan of halibut and pecans, so I think I’m going to have to make this for her sometime soon. Looks delicious!

  • Heaven help that looks fantastic. Even someone who doesn’t like fish would love this. Come over and visit us. We have some wonderful Southern recipes this week.

  • Love anything praline! This looks absolutely delicious, love any sugar/spice combo. Thanks for sharing!

  • I had halibut the other day and it was terrible. I’d like to try it again because I’ve heard so many great things about it. This recipe looks divine!

  • wowww, what an impressive looking meal! Ive never seen anything quite like this and it would be such a show stopper of a dish at a dinner party or the such. But until that moment i may just have to make it for myself :) looks truly delicious!

  • yeah, you lose me at dirty rice. I don’t know why anyone would name a dish that. I’ve been struggling with this for a while. It’s like calling a roll a 10 second rule role. Your picture though is the first I’ve seen that managed to actually make dirty rice look appetizing….and I LOVE rice. :)

  • Heidi

    I made this last night :) Fish has sounded pretty disgusting to me during this pregnancy but I had some fresh in the refrigerator because I still like variety, and Whole Foods had it on sale. This was SO, so good! My husband commented it was in the “top 10” meals I’ve made. Maybe he was extra hungry last night, but I have to say, you’re so right – the combination of savory, spicy and sweet is perfect. We’ll definitely be having it again!! Next time I make it, hopefully I will have had this baby and can use whiskey in place of apple juice :)

  • Holy smokes this is phenomenal! I will be doing this one on the grill. That gorgeous fish and sauce….wow.

  • Donna

    Wow! We made this dish last night and it was outstanding! I couldn’t get halibut so we used tilapia instead and it worked great. We enjoyed dreaming of other uses for the praline sauce once the fish had been eaten. Thanks, Annie!

  • This looks and sounds amazing! So many different delicious sounding layers of flavor! I very much look forward to trying it someday soon!

  • Meggie

    Did you have a hard time grilling the fish – it didn’t stick, didn’t flake and fall through? I’m TERRIFIED of grilling fish pretty much for the reasons above. If it all falls through, what will we eat?!? :p

  • Annie

    No, just be sure to oil the grates well and be gentle. Some types of fish are more delicate than others but I usually find halibut to hold up pretty well, Enjoy!

  • Cathy

    What a lovely site! Great pictures and recipes! Thanks for sharing with the internet world!

  • Allyson

    Annie, I made the dirty rice last night for my (new’ish) boyfriend and he LOVED it! Not only did we have a delicious side-dish, but I think I won points in his book too :) I used hot/spicy pork sausage (2 big links), red & green peppers, left out the onions 7 scallions (he doesn’t like onions… who doesn’t like onions?!?!) and increased the rice & broth slightly to accommodate the extra sausage. So yummy, good spice and got many compliments! We will be making this one a lot.. maybe try stuffing the leftovers in peppers for a stuffed pepper recipe!

  • Judith McInnes

    I didn’t think we could get halibut in New Zealand, so I used monk fish instead. This recipe is so good (my friends say restaurant quality)! I’ve taken a tasting plate to work the next day so that ten other ladies could experience it all, but particularly dirty rice (not a term we hear in the southern hemisphere). I can’t make it again until my thyme bush grows back! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Alice

    We had this last night. I used turkey sausage, and brown rice (so had to cook the rice 45 min). It was delicious. My husband says it’s now his favorite fish recipe.

  • Anna

    This was so delicious. I substituted salmon for halibut because it wasn’t available at the market I went to. The sweet praline sauce adds such a great contrast to the slightly spicy/salty element of the fish and dirty rice. My bf and I were both “mmm-MMmmm”-ing over and over again during dinner. Thank you for the recipe

  • Kristina

    My peeve is when people make comments like “looks good.” I want to know if it tastes good. So I will give my opinion. My husband is an avid fisherman, so we eat a lot of fish. This recipe is absolutely amazingly delicious. I have some great fish recipes, but this will be my go-to halibut recipe every time.