Size is the most distinguishing characteristic of the Pacific halibut. The largest of all flatfish, halibut can stretch up to 8 feet long and 4 feet across and weigh over 600 pounds. While such sizes are exceptional, it’s easy to see why fishermen refer to these fish as “whales” or “barn doors.” Market sizes run anywhere from 10 to 200 pounds. Pacific halibut are found along the Pacific Coast from northern California to the Bering Sea and westward to Russia and the Sea of Japan. Halibut are taken by longlines, primarily in Alaska and British Columbia. A quota system stretches the fishing season over several months, so fresh halibut is available nearly all year. For the first three months of winter, however, it’s scarce. That’s when you might want to remember the advice an 1866 article in Atlantic Monthly offered single women planning meals: “Don’t buy quails, for they are all gizzard and feather; and don’t buy halibut until you have inquired of the price.”
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.