Pacific Halibut

Species Information

Halibut are the largest of all flatfish, up to 9 feet long. They are bottom-dwelling strong swimmers and may be caught by longline. Twp species are fished commercially: Pacific halibut and Atlantic halibut. Of the two species, Pacific halibut is far more abundant.

Juveniles (1 inch and larger) are common in shallow, near-shore waters 6.5 to 164 feet deep in Alaska and British Columbia. Fish move to deeper water as they age, and migrate primarily eastward and southward.

Just behind the eye of the halibut lies a delicacy that has been known to fishermen for centuries, and is now increasingly popular with chef – the halibut cheeks. The size of a large scallop, this culinary delight is prized for its sweet flavor and tenderness. Often retained by fishermen, halibut cheeks are primarily bought by restaurants but are also occasionally available at the retail level.

Cooking & Handling

Store large sections of halibut up to 3 days refrigerated. Store fillets up to 2 days refrigerated.

Halibut is low in saturated fat and sodium and is a very good source of protein, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium.

Halibut is extremely versatile. It holds well under a number of cooking methods and is ideal for skewering. Because it is a lean fish, be careful not to overcook.

Flavors that work well with halibut are almond, asparagus, butter, capers, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon, orange, potato, shallot, tarragon, white wine and wine vinegar.

Cooking Methods

Bake, Broil, Grill, Poach, Sauté, Steam

Global Supply

Canada, Russia, United States

Seasonal Availability

Fresh available March through November. Supplies of fresh halibut tighten in early winter. Frozen available year-round.

Did You Know?

Halibut have been fished for hundreds of years by Native Americans on the Pacific Coast.

The International Game Fishing Association lists a 459-pound giant taken near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in 1996 as its all-tackle record.

At about 6 months old, halibut settle to the ocean floor, where the protective coloring on their "eyed" side camouflages them.

Scientific Name

Hippoglossus stenolepsis

Market Name

Halibut

Common Names

Pacific halibut, northern halibut, Alaska halibut

Substitutions

Grouper, snapper, large cod

Raw Characteristics

  • distinctive dark blotch
  • white meat
  • market weight 2–5 lbs

Cooked Characteristics

  • delicate, slightly sweet flavor
  • low fat content
  • firm texture
  • white flesh
  • fine texture
  • delicate flakes

Pronunciations

French: flétan du pacifique
German: heilbutt
Italian: halibut
Japanese: ohyô
Spanish: halibut