In Season: Halibut
Halibut’s universal appeal and mild quality make it a good companion for a host of ingredients.
Among the flounder family, the halibut is king. The fish can live up to 40 years and grow as large as 700 pounds, though 50 pounds is the average. Halibut troll the chilly waters of the Atlantic and north Pacific, but most commercial halibut fishing takes place along the West Coast of the United States and Canada. This firm, white-fleshed fish is widely available fresh and at its best from spring through mid-fall.
Regardless of its point of origin, halibut is a good source of lean protein, high in B vitamins, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. -According to the American Heart Association, each (three-ounce) portion of halibut contains up to one gram of omega-3s.
This firm, slightly sweet fish lends itself to a range of preparations, from simply broiled to poached in wine, says Karen Barnaby, chef at Vancouver’s the Fish House and editor of Halibut, the Cookbook. “Even people who aren’t crazy about other fish usually like halibut,” she says. When prepared correctly, fresh halibut’s firm white flesh stays moist and meaty.
Our collection of recipes showcases halibut in a variety of appetizing ways. For example, Mediterranean Fish Stew demonstrates how the firm flesh holds its shape when poached or simmered in liquid. The mild flavor of the fish pairs well with complex-tasting rubs or sauces, as in the Malaysian Barbecue-Glazed Halibut.
From Northern California to Alaska’s Bering Sea coast, fishermen hauled in some 65 million pounds of halibut in 2007, according to the International Pacific-Halibut Commission.
Most commercially fished Pacific halibut passes through Seattle, where it’s distributed to grocers and restaurants throughout the United States.
There is a comparably small commercial catch―about 100,000 pounds per year―along the U.S. Northeast coast. Having been heavily overfished in the 19th century, Atlantic Halibut is listed as a “species of concern” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.