With a flat body and mottled olive colouring to blend into the ocean floor, the Pacific halibut is the largest of all flatfish growing to a length of eight feet and a weight of 600 pounds. In fact, the Latin name Hippoglossus Stenolepsis translates as 'hippo of the sea" (while the English name is derived from "holy flatfish" as it was a special fish served on holy days in medieval England). Unlike the Atlantic halibut which is endangered throughout its range, the Pacific halibut is comparatively abundant, in large part due to the management and tight regulation of the fishery by the International Pacific Halibut Commission of the United States and Canada.
Using hook and line techniques, we harvest Pacific halibut along the west coasts of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, where the young halibut are usually found close to the shore with the older fish preferring the deeper water. Pacific halibut is prized for the delicate flavor and firm texture of its sparkling white, almost translucent flesh. The lean white meat of the Pacific halibut is high in protein and low in sodium, fat and calories, and with a minimum of bones, halibut as whole fish, fillets or portions adapts well to baking, broiling, frying, poaching or barbecuing.
Chef Danilo Ibarra of Steveston's Blue Canoe on wild Pacific halibut:
How to Buy: Always check your source. Make sure your fishmonger is reliable and the halibut is sustainably harvested. Check for clear eyes, firm flesh, and a clean smell. Fresh halibut should not smell fishy. If you buy frozen halibut during the off season, ensure that it is frozen-at-sea.
How to Prepare:The dish in the photo features such pan-seared halibut with roasted gnocchi, asparagus velouté, and pink peppercorn butter. Heat a small sauté pan on medium heat. Add three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. While the olive oil is heating, season the halibut portion with salt and pepper. Once the olive oil is heated, gently place the halibut top side down in the pan and sear for three to four minutes, basting with the olive oil. Flip the halibut portion over and sear for a further three to four minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let rest for a couple of minutes. Keep it nice and simple and let the flavor of the fish speak for itself. The cooking time will vary with the thickness of the halibut portion. Do not overcook!!!Roasted Oceanwise Halibut Apples & Fennel, Apple Butter, Agassiz Hazelnuts by Chef Rick Moonen of Las Vegas' RM Seafood at the Mandalay Bay Hotel:
This is a super simple and very versatile recipe. Ingredients: 1 piece 6 oz halibut (sablefish or wild salmon are great substitutes)
How to Prepare: In a small pan, roasted the fish in canola oil for 4 minutes per side!
Apple Relish/Butter: 2 cups fresh diced granny smith apples, 1 cup dried apple pieces (BC Blueberries or cranberries are a great substitute), 1 cup apple juice, ½ cup honey (maple syrup is a great substitute), 2 tbsp sea salt. Bring all the ingredients up to a simmer in a small pot over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Apple & Fennel Slaw: Thinly Shaved Raw Apples & Fennel on a Japanese mandolin with lemon vinaigrette.
Lemon Vinaigrette: 1 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ cup lemon juice, 1 tsp sea salt. Blend all the ingredients together in a Via Mix.
For the Hazelnuts: 1 cup roasted and chopped Agassiz Hazelnuts. Sprinkle on top of the fish after it comes out of the oven.