Halibut: Time to Get Grilling

A Match Made in Heaven

Grilled halibut and vegetables
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Halibut is a great fish for grilling for many reasons. It is easily available year round, easy to grill, and lends itself to almost any flavor. This mild flavored, white fish has a kind of versatility you won't find in any other fish. Halibut can be substituted for many kinds of fish and even poultry in most recipes, so this is a great one to experiment with.

Selecting Halibut to Grill

Halibut can get up to 500 pounds but is typically harvested at about 50 to 100 pounds.

The smaller the halibut, the better the fish will be. Chicken Halibut is the smallest, at about 10 pounds and is the best kind to buy. Of course, the better the fish, the more expensive it will be. When selecting fresh halibut, look for fish with a fresh odor (doesn't smell fishy), firm meat and a wet appearance. If you buy frozen raw halibut, it must be frozen solid. If you can dent it, don't buy it.

Grilling Halibut 

The biggest trick to grilling halibut right is to make sure you oil your cooking grate before you start. Once fish starts to stick, you can get into a lot of trouble. This is particularly true of fillets. Steaks, cut across the grain of the meat, holds together better and makes grilling much easier. If you choose fillets, be very gentle and keep the surface oiled to avoid sticking. A grilling basket or fish basket can make the job a lot easier.

Marinating Halibut 

If you choose to marinate your halibut before grilling, use a mild marinade and keep the marinating time low.

Strongly acidic marinades can break down the meat making it difficult to grill. Dry rubs and bastes work very well with halibut. Because of the mild flavor, you don't need much flavor to enhance the fish.

Grilling Time

The grilling time on halibut is pretty short so keep a close eye on it to avoid overcooking.

A 1-inch halibut steak will grill up in about 10 minutes over a medium-high heat. Thinner cuts and fillets can cook in as little time as 6 minutes. Turn once during cooking to avoid having the halibut fall apart. Keep the heat high and watch for burning.

Halibut is ready to eat when the meat is opaque through the middle. If you look at the raw fish you will notice that it has a glossy sheen and a transparent or translucent appearance. Once this characteristic is completely gone, the fish is ready. You can also tell it's done when the meat flakes easily with a fork. Whether it's a fillet or a steak you should be able to flake the meat apart all the way through when you serve it. Keep a fork or similarly pointed tool handy while grilling so you can test for doneness. If you have a thermometer, look for a temperature of 145 F (63 C).

Properly cooked and seasoned, halibut is one of the most versatile foods you can cook. Try substituting it in your favorite recipes and you can literally double your menu options. Grilled halibut is great in kebabs, tacos, enchiladas, salads, sandwiches or by itself.