Halibut, Pacific

Halibut is currently severely overfished across the Atlantic, particularly in Canadian waters; however Pacific halibut—from Alaska down to Oregon—is sustainably managed and thriving. Homer, Alaska claims the title of "Halibut Capital of the world" because of the large volume of both sport and commercial halibut fishing in the area. Be careful to ask for Pacific halibut and if unavailable, it’s better to avoid the fish entirely.

Halibut are a type of flatfish with both eyes on their dark ‘upper’ side, which starkly contrasts their white under belly. The dark side is typically the color of the ocean floor, while the white side appears more like the sky from beneath, which helps the halibut avoid detection by both prey and predator. Halibut are also strong swimmers and are able to hunt down a variety of prey from cod to crab as well as migrate long distances. Pacific halibut have elongated diamond-shaped bodies.

The extra-thick Pacific fillets make for versatile menu items since they can be infused with a lot of flavor as they cook slowly. Halibut has a lovely flaky white flesh with very subtle flavors, so make sure not to overpower it with too many other ingredients. The perfect blend of tender and crispy, try this delicious ginger-raisin crusted halibut for an easy crowd pleaser, thanks to chef and conservationist, Barton Seaver.

The key information you should know about Pacific halibut:

Toxicity: Moderate Mercury (Among four categories: least mercury, moderate mercury, high mercury, and highest mercury. See NRDC Smarter Living’s Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish)

Omega-3: 500 mg for Pacific halibut (Measured in milligrams per 3-ounce serving. The American Medical Association recommends approximately 250 mg of omega-3 every day. Thanks to the Blue Ocean Institute’s Seafood Decision Guide.)

Ocean-friendly: Green List ‘Best Choice’ for Pacific halibut (According to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch)

Level in the food chain: Top Predator