We love to catch and cook Halibut – that oddly-evolved and largest of the flatfish. Strangely, as a juvenile, its eyes are on either side of its body but, as it migrates to the bottom of the sea, so its left eye migrates to join its partner on the right hand side – the upper side – of the fish.
Halibut flesh is firm and not in the slightest oily. Cooked plain, it’s a delicate, mild-tasting fish and takes sauces very well. Halibut is fished in both the North Pacific and the North Atlantic. In the Pacific, they can run to about a hundred pounds but the biggest we’ve caught was in the mid thirties. Commercially, the majority of these fish are caught on long line and the catch is strictly regulated, not least because this fish doesn’t reproduce until it is at least eight years old. Many years ago, it wasn’t unusual to haul in a 700lb specimen. In modern times, the biggest fish run maybe 300lbs. Sustainability is, therefore, a big issue and we are very strict about following the catch rules.
I can’t think of many things more delicious than fish that’s caught, cleaned, filleted and on the barbecue within minutes of the catch. Being at anchor in a beautiful cove most likely enhances the experience, but I have never had a bad piece of freshly caught fish.
Salt & pepper
Prepare the barbecue. Brush the halibut filets lightly with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill for a total of 6 to 8 minutes, or until fish just begins to flake.
Do NOT overcook the halibut. It can turn from a beautiful, juicy filet to a dried-out, boring piece of fish within a couple of minutes.
Serve with Melon Salsa.
¾ cup diced cantaloupe
¾ cup diced honeydew melon
¼ cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons diced red pepper
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Combine diced fruit and vegetables in a bowl. Season to taste with lime juice and salt.
John’s Wine Selection
I like a Voignier for this dish, and Edna Valley is a fine Voignier. A Bridlewood Central Valley 2007 is a good choice. This Rhone varietal gives a wonderful aroma and balance. It’s strong enough to stand up to the salsa and delicate enough to bring out the subtleties of the halibut.