Alaska halibut are only harvested by longline. Independent fishermen target halibut by working known areas and setting down hooks baited with food that halibut prefer (like chunks of octopus and cod). Since fish come up one at a time while still alive they can be stunned and quickly processed (gutted and bled) before being moved into slush ice. This results in a high quality, consistent final product. Most trips for halibut are short (2 - 4 days) and limited by the size of the boat.
Although there is some incidental by catch, it’s minimal. Since fish come up on hooks, fishermen can release unwanted species and return them to the ocean unharmed.
Other Names: Pacific Halibut, Alaska Halibut, Hirame, Chicken Halibut (less than 20 lbs)
Range & Habitat: Pacific Ocean
Identification & Biology: Halibut are the largest of all flatfish. Their characteristic shape makes them easy to recognize; their skin is dark brown and gray with white bellies. Pacific halibut can exceed 700 lbs, although smaller fish are more common. Young "chicken" halibut are fish weighing in around 10 - 20 lbs.
Market Description: Pacific halibut has 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.
Habitat: Northern Pacific
Flavor Profile: large tender flakes with a unique, sweet and mild taste, cooks up snowy white.
Fishing Technique: long line
Suitable Sub: Atlantic halibut
Buying tips: Steaks should be sweet-smelling, with glistening pure white flesh that's free of browning, gaping, and signs of dryness.
Sold as: Whole fish (headed & gutted) fillets, or portions. Halibut cheeks are sometimes available.
Recommended Preparation: Halibut is firm and easy to work with - poach, steam, grill/broil, roast, saute, or pan or deep fry. Hlaibut is lso a great addition to soups and stews. We love fish sandwiches made with halibut, it's great for fish and chips, and makes a tasty fish taco!