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Halibut (c)2012

Halibut is the ingredient of the week at la Domestique. Yes, even fish is a seasonal ingredient. This largest of the flatfish is a bottom dweller from the North Pacific Ocean. The average size is 50-100 pounds, though the biggest halibut caught on record weighed almost 500 pounds! Fresh halibut is available in the United States from March to September. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide, Best Choice halibut is wild caught, from the Pacific, mostly Alaska. Look for MSC certified fish (Marine Stewardship Council), which means the fisheries are sustainable, using lines that don’t accidentally catch marine mammals or seabirds, degrade habitats, or deplete populations.

Halibut is a firm-fleshed white fish with a delicate, sweet flavor. It stands up to heat well, and so can be braised, grilled, or pan seared more easily than delicate sole or tilapia. In Ad Hoc at Home, Thomas Keller advises that when buying fish at market,

“Your fish should smell clean, like the fresh ocean, not fishy like low tide..and the flesh should have elasticity…fillets should look moist…and if it’s a white fish, there should be almost a translucence to the flesh.”

Halibut is not cheap, ranging from $20-$30/pound, but it is delicious, and pairs beautifully with spring ingredients like asparagus, artichoke, onions, garlic, radishes, and fresh herbs. Keep an eye out for price specials at the market and take advantage of a sale. Also, watch for fluctuations in price, as the cost of halibut per pound may drop throughout the season. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday, and I’ve got elegant spring recipe ideas for cooking with halibut. It’s important to support the seasonality of seafood, as many fisheries stockpile and freeze fish to supply us throughout the year, which not only drives up the price of seafood, but deprives the availability of freshly caught fish. For those of you close to the ocean, there may be a seafood CSA available where you can support local, sustainable fisheries. This week at la Domestique, we celebrate sustainable, seasonal seafood with halibut.

What are your thoughts on sustainable seafood? Do you participate in a seafood CSA? Share your impressions in the comments section. Click Here.