There’s nothing quite like a big, juicy steak. That said, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When you feel like you need a break from rib eyes and T-bones, you might try another good thing: fish. Most species of fish are super-lean sources of protein, and omega 3 fatty acids are great for your heart. Of all the fish out there, halibut is one of the most popular and delicious. For help understanding how to cook halibut, we reached out to David Ezelle, Executive Chef at RingSide Fish House in Portland, OR.
Selecting Your Halibut
As with all other meats, the deliciousness of your halibut is ultimately determined by the quality of meat you get. Chef David Ezelle has a good rule of thumb for this: “If you’re at the fishmonger, you can tell the halibut is fresh when the meat is lightly translucent — when it starts to look milky, it means the fish is getting old.”
If you’re like most folks, you will probably buy halibut that has already been filleted. If you happen to catch your own halibut, or buy the fish whole, you would do well to learn how to gut and clean it. For a super cool visual of Chef David filleting an enormous halibut, check out the video below.
Related: Fresh Seafood 101 with Chef Ed Brown
Chef David Ezelle was kind enough to give us several tips on how to cook halibut to perfection. RingSide Fish House is a renowned seafood restaurant in Portland, so this guy definitely knows what he’s talking about. “When cooked properly, it’s perfect,” says Chef David. “But it’s unforgiving if you overcook it; it dries out very quickly.”
Method 1: Sear and Bake
The first method involves two steps: searing the halibut on the stove, then baking it in your oven. Searing the meat is ideal for locking in the moisture and giving the fish a crispy texture on the outside. “I like to give the halibut pieces a quick pan sear over medium-high heat until golden brown, then finish it in the oven,” says Chef David. “I set the oven to about 400, and put the halibut in for 2.5 minutes on each side.”
Method 2: Poached Halibut
“Another great way to cook halibut is to poach it in olive oil over very low heat and fresh herbs and aromatics,” says Chef David. “It imparts great flavor without the fish drying out.” Garlic cloves, thyme, fresh bay leaf, and peppercorns lend excellent flavor. All you have to do is submerge the halibut completely in olive oil, add your herbs, and cook over low heat until the halibut is still slightly translucent in the center.
Method 3: Red Curry Halibut
If you’re looking to get fancy with your halibut, you may want to try out this rather epic recipe for halibut with red curry coconut sauce, fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, and Thai basil salad, courtesy of Chef David. This tasty meal will serve six people.
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- ½ oz chopped lemongrass
- ½ oz chopped fresh ginger
- ½ oz chopped fresh garlic
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ oz red curry
- ¼ oz canola oil
- 1 cup roasted fingerling potatoes
- 1 cup blanched baby carrots
- ¼ cup Thai basil
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ¼ cup mint
- Lemon juice and olive oil
6 portions of fresh Alaska halibut
- Sauté lemongrass, ginger, and garlic on low flame for five minutes in canola oil.
- Add vinegar and cook until the vinegar is reduced by half.
- Add coconut and curry paste. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain and set aside.
- Blanch baby carrots until tender.
- Roast fingerling potatoes that have been sliced into coins until tender and creamy.
- Sauté halibut on medium-high flame until golden brown and place in the oven for 2.5 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn over and cook for 2.5 minutes more.
- Place hot curry sauce in a bowl and lay vegetables on top of the sauce.
- Add halibut and garnish with the herb salad that has been lightly dressed in lemon juice and olive oil.
Halibut is a super healthy, tasty, and versatile alternative to steak. “Halibut season is a sign of spring at the Fish House,” says Chef David. “The fish pairs perfectly with other spring ingredients, like asparagus, English peas, spring onions, spring garlic and chervil.” If you’re looking to mix things up this spring and summer, give halibut a try. You certainly won’t regret it.
RingSide Fish House is located at the base of the Fox Tower in the heart of Downtown Portland. Since opening in 2011, RingSide Fish House has earned numerous awards, including the Diner’s Choice Award for best seafood from Open Table and a 4-star rating from TripAdvisor.