When is halibut season?
Halibut is available nearly year-round, with the beginning of its seafood season around early to mid-March running through mid-November.
What does halibut taste like?
Halibut is a lean, firm white fish with a flavor that is a slightly sweet and mild, similar to cod. Common cuts of halibut are fillets and steaks.
How do you cook it?
Halibut can easily take on other flavors and will pair with just about anything, including bolder seasonings like pesto. It is great grilled — just be sure to brush a clean grill grate with oil to prevent the fish from sticking. It can also be baked, broiled, sautéed, poached, steamed or blackened. (Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning makes a definitive blackened seasoning.) Cook fillets in a large cast-iron skillet, in butter over medium heat until fish flakes easily with a fork, 3-4 minutes on each side.
Fished cooked en papillote (in parchement paper) will come out tender and flaky (see below). Cooking en papillote seals in the moisture of whatever you are making, even chicken and steak. The meat will flake into succulent large, tender but firm pieces, and you shouldn’t need a knife to cut through it.
Like other lean and flaky white fish filets, including mahi mahi, cod and flounder, halibut is also great for tacos. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil a cast-iron skillet over high. Add halibut fillets and cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of fillet registers 140°F, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before flaking. Serve on warm corn or flour tortillas, with shredded cabbage, cilantro, avocado and cheese, or your favorite toppings.
The key to halibut? Don’t overcook it.
Because halibut is a lean fish, it can dry out if cooked too long. Use a cooking thermometer. A halibut steak is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like most fish, halibut is a high-quality source of protein. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients like selenium (a powerful antioxidant), magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6.
HALIBUT EN PAPILLOTE
The hardest part of the dish is folding that parchment heart around the fish. The paper needs to be pulled tight, very tight, like lid-on-a-new-jar-of-pickles tight, so that the fish, vegetables and herbs are completely encased; otherwise, the steam will escape and the fish will be dry.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- 8-10 mushrooms, such as chanterelle, shiitake, trumpet, portobello or a mixture, brushed clean
- 2 (6-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salted butter, divided
- 4 lemon slices
HOW TO PREP:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Thinly slice the mushrooms and place in a bowl.
- Lay out two 9×11-inch sheets of parchment paper on a flat surface.
- Place the mushrooms in the lower third of each parchment sheet.
- Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper and place them on top of the mushrooms.
- Divide the lemon zest, ginger, and scallions evenly between the fillets. Top each with lemon slices, and a teaspoon each of olive oil butter.
- Fold the top half of the parchment paper over the fish to make a rectangle. Starting on one side, crimp the edges together tightly so no liquid can escape and the contents are completely enclosed. Repeat with the other two edges.
- Place the packages on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the parchment packet is puffed and the fish and mushrooms are cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
- Transfer the packages to individual plates. Carefully cut open the parchment paper — there will be a rapid release of the built-up steam— and serve.