The halibut season opened on May 1, and several fishing vessels, including that of our friend Captain Joe, have rigged their boats with lines to fish for this delicious flatfish from the family of right-eyed flounders. Here in the territorial waters of Maine, the season runs from May 1 until June 30. Recreational fishermen may harvest 5 halibut per boat per season, whereas commercial fishing vessels may land a maximum of 25 halibut per year.
Halibut are demersal fish; they live and feed on the bottom of the ocean floor. Because of the nature of their feed and habitat, they contain little fish oil (between 1 to 4 %). Their flesh is firm and dry, and often cut into “steaks.”
Halibut is prized eating by home cooks and restaurants. When I lived in Bangor, the chefs at Pilot’s Grill invited me into their kitchen to observe the fileting and cutting of a freshly caught halibut from Stonington waters. Today we are fortunate to reside in a fishing community that lands halibut. When packed in a vacuum bag, halibut will maintain its quality and freshness in the freezer for at least six months.
Halibut is delicious baked, broiled, poached, and grilled. Now that summer is coming, we particularly enjoy it marinated and grilled, with a salad of fresh greens and applesauce. Almost any preparation for a white fish can be adapted for halibut. I’m eager to try a recipe for halibut pot roast; a two-pound or larger piece of halibut cooked in clam juice or fish stock with carrots, potatoes, celery and garlic.
For folks interested in rigging their boats for halibut fishing, the Department of Marine Resources maintains an excellent website: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/halibut/complianceguide.htm. Why not try your hand at it, just for the halibut.
Grilled Halibut With Salsa
- 1 pound halibut
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- ¼ cup beer or clam juice
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons Chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- 2 cups salsa
- In small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, beer, chopped garlic, chopped cilantro, olive oil and cumin. Lay the fish in a shallow, non-reactive pan and cover with the marinade.
- Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Heat the grill. Drain the fish, reserving the marinade.
- Spray the fish with cooking spray and grill 3 – 4 minutes on one side. Turn, brush with the marinade, and grill until done. The fish will flake when tested with a fork.
- Remove from the grill. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Serve topped with the prepared salsa.