Other Names: Atlantic halibut: Flétan (French); heilbot (Dutch); helleflynder (Danish); hipogloso negro (Spanish); ippóglossa (Greek); ippoglosso Atlantico (Italian); karasu-garei (Japanese); kveite (Norwegian); pi-mu-yu (Taiwan); schwartzer heilbutt (German). Pacific halibut: Belokory paltus (Russian); ohyô (Japanese). Greenland turbot: Alabote-de-gronelandia (Portuguese); flétan noir (French). Pleuronectidae.

General Description: Halibut are the largest of all flatfish, up to 9 feet long. Halibut have a large mouth, a forked tail, and are dark green-brown on their upper side and gray-white
below. They are bottom-dwelling strong swimmers and may be caught by longline. Small fish are called chicken halibut, while large adults are whales. Halibut command a high price for their firm, white meat.

Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepsis_) are closely related to Atlantic halibut; some scientists consider them to be the same species. Northwest Indians carved special fish hooks for halibut with designs to bring good luck and large fish. Atlantic halibut (_H. hippoglossus) are caught close to shore and are now being farmed.

Greenland turbot (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) are closely related to the halibut. They are economical, versatile fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

Locale and Season: Alaska produces 80 percent of Pacific halibut. They are in peak season April through October. Russian and Japanese halibut may be had from March 15 through November 15. Atlantic halibut are caught from Labrador to Maine. Supplies of halibut dwindle in early winter. Greenland turbot are harvested from deep waters near Newfoundland and Labrador and are in season from May to October.

Characteristics: Halibut may weigh more than 600 pounds, although 5 to 10 pounds is average. The lean, snow-white meat is finely textured, dense, and has few bones; it retains
its moisture well when frozen. When cooked it is tender and flaky, though still firm, but it is important not to overcook this lean fish. Its dark skin is edible though often removed. Pacific halibut is larger and softer in texture than Atlantic halibut. Halibut can harbor undetectable microorganisms that can make it mushy when cooked. This is uncommon, and the
microorganisms are killed by cooking to 140°F.

Halibut steak and fillet

How to Choose: Halibut are sold whole, as steaks and fillets. Meat from large halibut is a bit coarse. Choose halibut with white, glossy, almost translucent flesh, avoiding any that is dull, yellowish, or dried out. Greenland turbot is sold whole, as fresh or frozen fillets, and as steaks.

Storage: Store large sections of halibut up to 3 days refrigerated; store fillets up to 2 days refrigerated.

Poach, bake, broil, sauté, steam, grill, pan-roast, sear, or cube and skewer.

Suggested Recipe: Baked Halibut with Tarragon (serves 4): Arrange 4 halibut fillets in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon, and
1/4 cup chopped shallots. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter, spread with 2 tablespoons sour cream, and bake at 375°F until the fish flakes, about 20 minutes.

Flavor Affinities: Almond, asparagus, butter, capers, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon, orange, ponzu, potato, shallot, tarragon, white wine, wine vinegar.

from Quirk Books: