Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And, if you’re looking at Pacific Halibut from its good side, it’s a twofer: you’ve got two big eyes staring right back at you.
We think you’re beautiful, Pacific Halibut, and you give us a lot to work with – from head to fin.
Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is the world’s largest species of flatfish. One can weigh as much as 500-lbs. and grow up to 8-ft. long. Those big ones are called “barn doors”. The little ones are called “chickens.”
They’re found in the coastal waters from Northern California to Nome, Alaska. Most are caught in the central Gulf of Alaska. As a flatfish, they hang out on the sandy ocean floor, which gets quite dark. It’s an environment that breeds adaptation.
Tell Me About Those Eyes
Pacific Halibut are born swimming like the other kids in school. They look like them too, with an eye on each side of their heads. As they get older, though, their bodies begin to change. One eye migrates to the right side. By the time a halibut is six months old, it’s swimming on its side with both eyes on the top of its body. This puts them in the family of right-eyed flounders. Nearly every halibut falls into this camp. In fact, only one in 20,000 halibut is left-eyed.
The underside of the body is off-white and faces the ocean floor. The other side is a dark olive color, which helps them blend in with the ocean floor to anyone (or anything) looking down from above. It’s on that top side of the body where both eyes reside, keeping an eye out for potential threats while enjoying a steady diet of small fish, crabs, clams, squid and other bottom dwelling invertebrates.
The 2023 season runs March 10 through Dec. 7, closing right before the spawning season begins. The females typically spawn at depths of 300- to 1,500-ft. When we get a hold of Pacific Halibut, it’s wild caught by longlines or hook and line.
We handpick, cut and exclusively supply the highest quality seafood to our restaurants. We leverage more than 75 years of strong relationships to source from local fishermen and lobstermen. For Pacific Halibut, this means partnering with companies such as E&E Foods. They’re experts in Alaska and the North Pacific and have been serving the industry since 1932.
Pacific Halibut is a people and palate pleaser, with a flavor that’s delightfully mild and slightly sweet. It’s a leaner fish, with large white flakes and a firm but tender texture.
We offer several preparations of Pacific Halibut throughout the season at Water Grill, utilizing the whole fish. This includes:
· Pan Seared Halibut entrée with spring peas, fingerlings, braised leeks and lemon velouté
· Pan Roasted Halibut Cheeks appetizer with braised fennel and brown butter lemon sauce
· Miso Marinated Halibut Collar with grilled Okinawan potatoes, pickled bean sprouts and yuzu aioli
· Roasted Halibut Tail tacos with roasted tomato salsa, pickled mango and soft corn tortillas
This is in addition to a King’s Fish House Favorite, the Macadamia Nut Crusted Wild Alaskan Halibut.
The Pacific Halibut Fishery is managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council. These agencies work together to set annual quotas and keep the population at a level where it can continue to reproduce and sustain itself. The teamwork extends across the United States and Canada – including the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and the province of British Columbia.
Collectively, the Pacific Halibut population has been increasing since 2013 through the active and collaborative fisheries management. The 2023 IPHC catch limit is a 3.4M pound reduction compared to 2022.