A cousin of the Flounder, Halibut is a salt water-dwelling flatfish. In regard to its name, there is a bit of controversy as to its origin. The most frequently held notion is that it is a portmanteau of two Italian words meaning “holy” and “flatfish”. People who subscribe to this idea say that this name came about as a result of the popularity of Halibut during the season of Lent. Others hold that the name Halibut comes from a Swedish word meaning “a fish that can be found in deep holes”2. Whatever its backstory might be, Halibut is a delicious and widely popular fish that won’t be disappearing from the culinary world any time soon.
The Halibut is a fish of the North, known to populate the northern regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are typically found in deeper waters, but generally can be spotted anywhere from 40 to 3,600 feet below the surface of the sea2. They prefer cold waters, which is evident by their choice of location. Of the many different varieties of flatfish, Halibut are the largest, with the largest catch on record weighing in at a whopping 459 lbs. Most Halibut are significantly smaller than that, but as Flatfish go, they take home the prize for size.
As is the case with most fish, Halibut present a white underside. Their tops and flanks usually exhibit a mottled dark brown hue which helps to serve as a camouflage near the ocean floor. A rather unique trait of the Halibut is the fact that while it is born with one eye on each side of its head, one eye will migrate to the same side as the other as they reach maturity1. Once this happens, they begin to look more like Flounder, as they have a similar eye arrangement.
Halibut are not picky eaters and will eat most anything they can catch. Some of their favorite food sources include Cod, Pollock, Crabs, Octopus, and Salmon. However, when properly tempted, many Halibut have proven themselves more than willing and capable when it comes to acts of cannibalism.
As a white flatfish, Halibut present a white flesh that is firm and dense, though it will begin to flake when cooked to the right temperature. Its flavor is quite mild, making it a popular fish among those who are on the outer fringes of seafood fandom. Along with Cod and Haddock, Halibut is among the fish most frequently found in fried fillet form in fish and chips platters. It’s also a healthy fish to consume, as it is a good source of protein and very low in fat.
Pub-style fish and chips platters are far from being the only place you’ll find Halibut on the dinner table. There are a myriad of different and delicious ways in which this flatfish can be prepared and consumed. They are a popular fish for baking as well as boiling and due to their dense flesh, they can stand up well to grilling. Smoking Halibut can be difficult to do, as a result of its low fat content, but it is not impossible. With some effort, a smoked Halibut dinner can be an amazing taste treat. Occasionally, Halibut even makes its way into sushi and sashimi. It is important to be vigilant when cooking Halibut, as overcooking can make it dry out very quickly.
As we’ve just stated, there are many ways in which one can enjoy a Halibut meal. One such way is Poached Halibut with Tomato and Basil, a recipe from Rachel Ray, which we’ll share with you now.
Poached Halibut with Tomato and Basil
Ingredients: 20 fresh basil leaves (shredded or torn), 4 six to eight ounce Haddock fillet portions, 1/4 lemon, salt and pepper, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 crushed garlic clove, and 1 sliced shallot3.
1. Season the Halibut with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Place the fish into a large frying pan and coat it with olive oil.
3. Add in the wine, garlic, and shallot pieces.
4. Put 1/4 of the tomatoes on top of each piece of Haddock.
5. Place the pan on a stove over medium to high heat and top with a well-fitting lid.
6. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently to see if the fish has started to flake.
7. Remove the fish from the pan and place on to serving plates and top with lemon and basil.
8. Serve and enjoy3!
This recipe will take about 15 minutes; 5 for preparation and 10 for cooking. It will yield 4 servings3.
1. Author Unavailable
2. Author Unavailable
3. Ray, Rachel
Poached Halibut with Tomatoes and Basil