(From “The Science of Good Cooking” book)
Cooked strictly on stove top, the fish steak can become very dry, especially in fish with not a lot of fat like halibut. Roasting produces moister results but there’s not enough time for browning.
Best way to achieve great looking moist fish steaks: Brown one side on stove stop, flip the steak and immediately transfer it to the oven, letting the second side brown more slowly in the oven. Use enough oil to prevent sticking. Serve with a chunky vinaigrette.
For 1-inch steak, start of with a cold piece and brown it without any problem. The cold interior gives you more time to brown it.
Refrigerated thick steak ( more than 1 inch thick) doesn’t have enough time to warm up its interior before cooking in the skillet (even if left on the counter for a long time, which is not recommended due to food safety issues).
Warm the steaks before searing in a 275-F oven for 20-30 min till the internal temperature reaches 95 F. This will prevent the meat from cooling down a hot pan when added for a sear. This allows the tenderizing enzymes (cathepsins, active below 122 F) time to do their work. The oven also evaporates some of the surface moisture, browning will be easier.