Find a Fish:
Other Names: Atlantic, Pacific, Greenland, California, and black halibut. "Chicken halibut" denotes a young, small variety of this fish.
Range & Habitat: Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
Identification & Biology: Of the flounder family and the largest of all flatfish, halibut are gray with some white mottling. Most weigh between 50 and 100 lbs., but Atlantic halibut can exceed half a ton. Young chicken halibut are much smaller (2 to 10 lbs.)
Market Description: Tender chicken halibut is considered best for eating. Atlantic and Pacific halibut are also good, with extremely lean, firm, tight-grained white meat. Halibut are delicately flavorful, albeit a bit dry. Greenland, California, and black halibut are considered less desirable, as far as table-fair quality.
Buying tips: Steaks should be sweet-smelling, with glistening pure white flesh that's free of browning, gaping, and signs of dryness.
Notes: The Atlantic halibut population has dropped considerably in recent years, resulting in a higher price tag for this popular fish.
Sold as: Steaks (skin on) are most common; smaller specimens can be available as fillets or fresh and whole (headless and dressed). Halibut cheeks, sold in gourmet shops, are considered a delicacy.
Substitutes: Cod, dogfish, flatfish, haddock, turbot
Recommended Preparation: A firm, fine-textured fish, halibut poaches, grills, broils, braises, and steams particularly well. It is also good roasted or sautéed. The edible skin need not be removed; in fact, leaving the skin on helps steaks keep their shape while cooking.
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