Why not all Halibut taste the same.

Did you ever eat a halibut dish at a restaurant that left you feeling less than satisfied? Well, it probably wasn’t all the chef’s fault. They have to contend… with multiple factors. Commercial fisherman usually throw back halibut less than about 30 pounds because of catch restrictions, so that only the older, tougher fish make it to market. Personally, I prefer to only eat halibut under 25 pounds.

If you compare the filet of a 12-25 pound halibut to one in the 40-100 pound range, you will notice a difference similar to filet mignon and flank steak. Of course I prefer to eat halibut as fresh as possible, but a very close second is fish that has been vacuum packed and flash frozen. Most people who eat halibut (that I have prepared) are surprised when they don’t taste anything fishy and also experience the “melt in your mouth” euphemism that has been so overused.

Many fishing resorts on the north coast promote large halibut. Please do the halibut and yourself a favor by keeping the ones under 30 lbs. The larger halibut have tougher meat, but also have many eggs to lay. I know of one fellow who suggested cooking the larger halibut in a pressure cooker to tenderize the meat. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds awful. Generally I cook halibut in a skillet for just a few minutes on each side. I can’t imagine what a pressure cooker would do, but it probably wouldn’t be pretty. If you would like some of our favorite halibut recipes, send me an e-mail.

Upper scale restaurants that serve a premium cut of beef will often also have 2 or three halibut dishes on the menu. You will often pay close to the same price for a small piece of this tasty whitefish as you would for a New York strip or a good Rib Eye steak. Having sampled many different halibut recipes at these restaurants over the years, I have generally been disappointed with both the flavor and quality of the fish. To be fair, the chefs are probably doing an incredible job since the fish they have to work with are is less than desirable. As opposed to beef, fish does not age well. When restaurants advertise “fresh halibut”, they mean “never frozen. In most cases this “fresh fish” has been on ice on the fish boat for 10 days or more. Then it has to survive shipping while staying unfrozen, which means the halibut will often have that familiar fishy taste.