The largest of the flatfish, halibut have been known to grow as large as 300kg and 4m long in deeper waters. This is a highly esteemed and very tasty fish, with creamy white, firm meaty flesh. It has a compressed oval body with a large mouth. The dark, eye side is a greenish-dark brown and the blind side is pure white.
Smaller fish (1kg to 3kg) are known as “baby” or “chick” halibut, and tend to be found in shallower waters. The better quality fish are usually caught by line, so the catch is limited, making them more expensive. The larger fish range in size from 3kg to 70kg. As well as being found in the Pacific, North Atlantic and the North Sea, halibut is now also being successfully farmed, ensuring this exquisite, nutritious species is available year-round.
Do not confuse with mock, black or Greenland halibut, all names for an inferior species (Reinhardtiushippoglossoides), which is dark brown on both sides and has a slightly gelatinous texture.
The best way to cook halibut is to poach it either in a good fish stock or white wine, with cooking liquors then used as a base for the sauce (delicate flavours work best). Suprêmes are also good pan-fried – but be careful not to over-cook and dry them out.
Text by Seafish