HalibutDid you know that Salmon is not the only fish that has a season?
Halibut season runs from mid-March thru early November and is just as anticipated by some people as the wild salmon season—or for those of us in the SF Bay Area, Dungeness crab season.

Halibut is more often than not sold as fillets but every once in a while you get lucky and can find steaks. Your best bet for cooking methods include: panfrying, braising, poaching, and adding to soups and stews. Grilling is not recommended unless you are using steaks because the fillets will fall apart.

There are three different species of Halibut (Family Pleuronectidae).

Atlantic Halibut
The Atlantic Halibut is the largest flatfish in the world. They have been known to reach up to fifteen feet in length. The largest catch ever recorded weighed almost 700 pounds! In the past, the Atlantic halibut population had been considered endangered due to over-fishing. Careful oversight and regulation have now changed that, though population levels are still below target numbers. Nonetheless, Atlantic halibut is considered a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed.

Pacific Halibut
Pacific halibut is not as large as it’s Atlantic cousin but it comes close, reaching lengths of eight feet and up to 500 pounds. Found most commonly in the north Pacific in the waters off the coast of Alaska, Pacific halibut is widely prized for its great tasting meat that stands up to strong ?? It is also a favorite of sport fishermen vacationing in Alaska. Due to careful management, Pacific halibut populations are healthy which makes it a frequent choice of restaurants and consumers alike.

California Halibut
The smallest species of halibut typically only weighing from 6 to 30 pounds although they can grow up to five feet long and weigh up to 72 pounds. Also known as California flounder, it’s mild flavor and large flakes make it a versatile choice for cooking. They are fished commercially year round but recreational fisherman can have their fun from May to November.

If you are planning to try some fresh halibut, here is a favorite recipe.

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth Recipe
Adapted from Ellie Krieger and The Food Network
Yields 4 servings

2 teaspoons flavorless vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2-1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning
4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed
5 cups baby spinach, washed
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

Make the broth
In a large sauté pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups (about 5 minutes).

Cook the halibut
Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the halibut in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork spooning the sauce over the fish so it cooks evenly (about 7 minutes).

Steam the spinach
Steam the baby spinach until wilted. (This can be done on the stove top on in the microwave.

Assemble the dish
Arrange the steamed spinach into four evenly-divided portions in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top the spinach with the halibut fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the remaining sauce and taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve the dish
Ladle the sauce over the halibut and serve with rice.


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