Halibut is an extremely versatile fish, meaning it is easy to cook in a variety of preparations. A prized catch for both sport and commercial fishermen, halibut is a lean fish with mild, sweet white meat. The meat’s flakes are large and firm, but proper preparation will result in a tender texture. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a fresh halibut fillet, you’ll want to do everything you can to bring out the fish’s natural flavor. If you’re unsure where to start, this halibut cooking guide is a great reference point.
About the Halibut Fish
Halibut steaks contain firm white meat and have a mild flavor. This makes halibut an excellent candidate for most whitefish recipes. Before cooking, be sure to wash the fish thoroughly under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Keep a cooking thermometer on-hand, too, to take the guess work out of cooking this notoriously delicate fish.
When preparing halibut, be careful to not overcook the fish. Halibut is prone to drying out quickly because the fish naturally does not contain much oil. If you are baking, broiling, or grilling the fish, be sure to keep it marinated or continually brushed with olive oil and/or butter to retain moisture.
Similarly, if you are using a marinade, do your best to choose one that will not overpower the fish’s delicate flavor. Acidic marinades, like those with citrus, will break down the meat, causing the final product to be soft and/or mushy. Instead, try experimenting with flavors like ginger, garlic, and rosemary.
Please note that frozen halibut is dense and less moist than fresh halibut. It is thus easier to overcook a frozen fillet than a fresh one.
- If you don’t already have the fish for cooking halibut, check out guide for buying halibut online.
Different Methods for Cooking Halibut
As noted above, halibut’s low oil content means the fish will easily stick to the grill. As a result, be sure to start with a spotless grill plate, and ensure you oil the grate before beginning to cook. Here is a brief, step-by-step guide to preparing the fish on a grill.
- Apply a generous amount of olive oil, butter, or marinade to the halibut steak or fillet.
- Place the steak or fillet directly on the grill. If you are uncomfortable putting the fish directly onto the grill, consider investing in a wire fish basket, especially if you cook fish often.
- With halibut, use the “10 minutes per inch” rule. This means a 1-inch-thick piece of halibut should take about 10 minutes to grill on medium high heat.
- Turn the fish only once while grilling.
- Remove from heat and serve.
Baking halibut is among the easiest methods of cooking this fish. As with grilling, be sure to apply a generous amount of oil to the fish to retain moisture. Here’s how to do the rest.
- Oil or butter an oven-safe casserole fish.
- Season your fish and apply more olive oil to the top side.
- Bake the fish for around 15 minutes in a preheated, 400-degree oven.
- About halfway through, baste the fish with butter or olive oil.
- Remove from oven and enjoy.
This is an excellent way to prepare halibut, as it adds a wonderful crust to the outside of the fish. You can cook the halibut completely in a pan, or you can partially cook it and finish it off in the oven for a crispier result.
- Using a non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the halibut to the pan and sear for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Flip the fish after 5-7 minutes and add 2 more tablespoons of butter to the pan.
- Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve.
Here is a video on cooking halibut in three various ways.