“Hippo of the Sea” is how the halibut’s Latin family name Hippoglossus can be translated. “Holy flatfish” is the English derivation, with hali for holy and but for flat, hailing from the halibut’s legacy as a special fish for holy days (or holidays) in medieval England. Halibut is the largest member of the right-eye flounder family. Alaskan and Canadian fisheries cooperate across the border to manage wild Pacific halibut stocks for long-term sustainability. Both countries operate under an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system, under which fishermen “own” their quota and can fish anytime from March 15th to November 15th to fulfill their allocation.
We do not recommend purchasing Atlantic halibut, due to poor fishery management; most flounder and sole populations in the Atlantic, including Atlantic halibut, are seriously depleted. Since most Atlantic flatfish are caught with bottom trawls, bycatch of other species is a considerable problem, as is the harmful effect of trawling on ocean habitat.
Join the discussion on fennel, one of the key ingredients in this recipe.
To Prepare the Fennel Crust and the Halibut:
Advance Preparation: Both the tomato broth and the fennel crust may be prepared several days in advance. Store the broth in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Store the fennel crust in a sealed container in a dry place, but do not refrigerate.
Substitutions and Options: Other spices or combination of spices, such as mustard seed, coriander or cumin, can be substituted in the crust mixture for the toasted fennel seed. Wild salmon, Pacific cod or Petrale sole can be used in place on the halibut.
You can also serve the crusted halibut on top of summer vegetable slaw, or with sliced heirloom tomatoes simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper.
Beverage pairing: The anise flavor of the fennel crust will benefit from anise notes in a Sangiovese-based red wine. Recommended: 1999 Castellare di Castellina, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy; or for something a little oaky try the 2000 Columbia, Red Willow Vineyard David Lake Signature Series, Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, Washington.