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Ingredient

Halibut

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What is it?

Halibut, a large member of the flatfish family, thrives in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The average hailbut weighs in somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds, but they can get up to almost 500. Smaller fish, weighing between 2 and 10 pounds, are called chicken halibut and are considered the finest.

Firm, white, and mild flavored, halibut is well-suited for just about every cooking method. Its subtle flavor should not be overpowered by aggressive sauces or marinades. Halibut pairs well with tarragon and chives, potatoes, and juicy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.

Halibut is available year-round but it’s abundant from March through September. Pacific halibut, unlike Atlantic halibut, comes from well-managed fisheries that have not suffered the steep population decline affecting Atlantic halibut. Also, Pacific ocean temperatures are colder year-round, so the halibut isn’t prey to the warm-water-loving parasites that make Atlantic halibut an iffy proposition in all but the coldest months.

Don’t have it?

You can substitute another firm white fish like sea bass, snapper, or monkfish.

How to choose:

When buying fish fillets, examine the flesh, which should be moist and glistening and without any large gaps.

Dry-looking flesh is a sign of age. Fresh fish should not smell strong or fishy but should have a mild, fresh scent suggestive of the sea.

How to prep:

Halibut takes well to almost any preparation; we especially like to grill, roast, and sauté it. But with its delicate flavor and texture, halibut gives its best performance when just barely cooked through. Overcook it, and it’ll be very dry.

How to store:

Like all fish, halibut should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator and used soon after buying. To slow down spoilage, try this: Put whole fish or fillets in a large strainer set over a bowl. Pile ice high on top of the fish and refrigerate. The ice keeps the fish close to 32°F, and as it melts, the water continually rinses off bacteria and drains it into the bowl. Or put the haddock in a plastic bag and set the bag on ice to maintain a temperature close to 33°F (spoilage occurs twice as fast at 40°F as it does at 32°).

    Recipes

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    A sun-dried tomato and lemongrass broth makes a fragrant seasoning for the halibut, and a garlicky basil pesto and sautéed zucchini round out the dish.

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    The crunchy earthiness of the halibut’s nut-coating is balanced by a crisp green salad and a drizzle of tangy lemon-tarragon vinaigrette. Since fish cooks so quickly, this dish is speedy…

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    This recipe comes with a built-in side dish: fragrant rice pilaf enriched with sautéed leeks. Don’t worry if the edges of the rice seem crunchy when you open the packets;…

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    This hearty fish stew is a treasure from the South of France. It takes an afternoon to make, but it's a showstopping all-in-one meal that's absolutely worth the effort.

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    Thai Green Curry with Fish and Long Beans

    Mild white fish gets a jolt from fiery green curry paste, balanced by sweet chunks of pineapple and basil. Create your own Thai curry recipe with the Recipe Maker.

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