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Halibut from Alaska - Fishing and Cooking Halibut

Updated on October 11, 2013
Fresh caught halibut off Larsen Bay, Alaska
Fresh caught halibut off Larsen Bay, Alaska
Approximately 85 lbs. fresh caught halibut
Approximately 85 lbs. fresh caught halibut

Halibut: A Deliciously Weird-Looking Fish

The water creatures that inhabit our planet are a milieu of colors, shapes, sizes. Human beings are still discovering undocumented species that live in the oceans, seas, bays, lakes, rivers. Each of these living thing has their own beauty even though we may find some of them weird, mythical-looking that can fuel legends.

Halibut is one species that is born with each eye located where human beings know is normal. At a certain age, the halibut's other eye migrate to the same side as the stationery eye which is located on the dark-side of its body. The dark side of the body camouflages the bottom of the ocean floor when seen from above, and the the other side which is white, camouflages the sky when seen from the bottom. The halibut's brown speckled side has the similarity of a hippoppotamus' hide, thus, the scientific name hippoglassus stenolepis.

Species: Flatfish, flounder family.

Habitat: Halibut is a salt water fish that is found in the North Pacific and North Atlantic waters. Most halibut in the North Atlantic areas have been depleted because of overfishing. Having learned this lesson, halibut harvesting is regulated and managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) based in Washington State.

Size: This largest flatfish species can grow huge tipping to over 700 lbs. They earn the nickname "barn doors" for their gigantic size. The record holder in Alaska was at 459 lbs. caught off Unalaska Bay which is located in the northwest area of the state. Halibut are fierce swimmers. The challenge of wrestling to reel in one big halibut may take four men. The halibut family are infamous for their large appetites. They feed on anything that can fit their mouths including their own kind. This is one species where cannibalism is practiced without regret. Since they are huge, their predation are done by the larger orcas or killer whales, seal lions and salmon sharks.

Taste: No, it doesn't taste like chicken! It's sweet--not sugar sweet! It's flaky flesh is not pastry flaky. It doesn't smell of fish, even if it's a fish....unless it's past its shelf life. Halibut---it does a body good!

Reeling In the Halibut

Sportfishing Halibut in Alaska

Halibut fishing charters abound in the Alaskan summer. Fishing are often done around the Southcentral and Kodiak areas which are prime halibut habitat. The typical halibut season is from June to September, although halibut can be caught at anytime of the year.

There are several websites that detail the prices of these halibut trips. Some can be day trips near the more urbane settings. If you have the budget, go for entire package in remote settings for a real Alaskan perspective. When you purchase these remote trips, it is not unusual to be quoted a thousand dollars or more for a few days of stay that will include lodging, three meals a day, fishing guide, fuel, fish cleaning. Air fares, tips are additional.

To fish for halibut,can be an exiciting adventure, so get yourself a good video camera to capture those tense moments.

Filleting Halibut

Halibut that are usually caught by clients as part of their fishing trips, are cleaned and filleted by the fishing guides. That is part of the fee that clients pay for when they sign for these fishing expeditions. The exciting part of the day is when clients land a big one. But even though they don't, any caught halibut are weighed and some of them get their photos taken with their catch of the day, or just have the fish get their photo ops.

Filleting halibut looks daunting. But all you needed is a very sharp fillet knife and the understanding that halibut is a flatfish that is easy to dissect into sections by following its bone structure. See the photos below for a visual cue on how to fillet a halibut. A fillet from head to tail of a halibut is called a fletch. The fleshier sections midpoint are called steaks. The fleshy part of the halibut's face which are cheeks are considered a delicacy.

Here is a link of another halibut filleting method:

What You Will Need For Filleting

1. Sharp fillet knife.

2. A large cutting board or a large clean surface for cutting fish.

3. A pair of well-fitting gloves.

4. Your concentration. Remember that you have a very sharp knife that could detour where it's not welcome.

Point the knife away from you. Place the knife towards the tail . Make a cut and slide the knife between the fillet and the backbones all the way to the gills' edge.  Do the same procedure on the other sides.
Point the knife away from you. Place the knife towards the tail . Make a cut and slide the knife between the fillet and the backbones all the way to the gills' edge. Do the same procedure on the other sides. | Source
A finished filleted halibut.
A finished filleted halibut. | Source
Halibut Fletch - One big fillet
Halibut Fletch - One big fillet | Source
Halibut Carcasses
Halibut Carcasses | Source

A Simply Delicious Halibut Meal

I served this halibut dish one night at the lodge. Since I have to serve three different meals a day everyday not including different appetizers, soups, desserts, and breads, you could say, that it has been creatively challenging not to duplicate dishes for the same guests. And because of the remoteness of the lodge, not all items are available immediately.

You could serve this Bacon Wrapped Halibut with rice pilaf, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, etc. Add steamed or braised vegetables for a complete nutritious dish.

Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Creamy Dil Sauce and served with Polenta
Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Creamy Dil Sauce and served with Polenta | Source

Easy Steps to Making Polenta

Polenta that is often seen in the stores and referred to in most recipes are the yellow coarse cornmeals. The most important procedure to making a successful polenta is the stirring. Do not leave your pot unattended. NOTE: Reduce the salt required in the polenta recipe.

For this particular halibut meal, the polenta is simply moist polenta, NO cream, NO herbs, etc.

See the link below to learn more techniques on how to make polenta.

Bacon Wrapped Halibut Fillet

Halibut Fillet
2 - 4 oz.
Sliced Raw Bacon
2 Slices
Choose unsalted bacon. Wrap each of the bacon slices onto each of the halibut fillet. Secure with a toothpick.
White Wine
1 Cup
Pan fry the the wrapped bacon halibut fillet until bacon has turned color. Do the same to the other side. Don't let it get crispy and don't overcook the fish.
Pour the white wine into the pan to deglaze. Swirl to coat the fish and reduce the liquid a bit.
Set aside the deglazed liquid to be added to the Creamy Dill Sauce.

Creamy Dill Sauce

Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons
Heat the pot slightly and add the butter
Be advised to prepare your mis en plas first.
3 each medium size
Slice thinly and add to butter to saute.
That means cut, dice, slice, peel and portion out your ingredients.
2 each cloves
Mince garlic, then add to butter and sauteed shallots.
In this way, you don't forget anything and your cooking more expediently.
Heavy Cream
2 cups
Add to sauteed shallots and garlic. Let it simmer to thicken a bit.
Halibut Deglazed Sauce
Pour into mixture together with the heavy cream. Stir to incorporate.
1/8 teaspoon
Add to simmering pot.
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon
Add to simmering pot.
Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon
Add to simmering pot.
Dried Dill (1 teaspoon) or Fresh Dill (2 T)
Add to simmering pot.
Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon
Add and stir to incorporate.
Serve warm.
Creamy Dill Sauce
Creamy Dill Sauce | Source

Nutritional Value of Halibut For You and Your Dog

NOTE: Save the carcass for soup and grind the fish bones as additional calcium supplement for your dog food.

Some people discard the skin, but the skin is edible. The skin has a sort of gelatinous texture. If you do not want to eat it, give the cooked skin to your dogs. Halibut has minimal fish scales unlike salmon.

Counting The Benefits of A Four Ounce Halibut Fillet

Most Significant Minerals & Nutrients
Percentage Daily Equivalents
Good For
Low at 8%
Fish diet anyone?
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Cardiovascular functions, Improves mood, Reduce risk of macular degneration.
Build and repair tissues, produce hormones and enzymes.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin), B6 and B12
Support and increase metabolism rate. Enhance the immune and nervous system function.
Selenium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Trytophan
Prevent cancer and heart disease.


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    • daisynicolas profile image

      daisynicolas 5 years ago from Alaska

      I thank you for stopping by to read and to compliment the hub. I was never fond of halibut until I tasted a freshly-caught halibut. That made me appreciate not to 'abuse' the fish with potent flavors because it can stand on its own.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Outstanding job, seriously! I love everything about this hub. I haven't had halibut in a long time and you provide a different perspective on it since I only see the filets in a meat market. I love polenta and liked the way you displayed your sauce idea. Thumbs up.

    • daisynicolas profile image

      daisynicolas 5 years ago from Alaska

      You are very kind, Cardisa. Thank you for recognizing my work. I was worried about this hub because I did not know much about halibut and I have to keep researching and rewriting so the hub would be easy to read and not talk about the "scientific" side which can bore a lot of people.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      This should be the hub of the day every day! Wow you have done a great job with presentation, layout, information anf the finished product look so good. I have never had halibut..I think..but I would certainly try it now. job. Really amazing!