Halibut: What kind of fish is it? And how to cook it?

From frying, grilling to cooking it in the oven

Halibut is one of the most versatile fish you can cook. It can be fried, roasted, grilled and poached. Read all about this delicious fish and how to cook it in this blog.

Halibut with beurre blanc sauce

Chapter 1

What kind of fish is halibut?

Halibut is a species of fish that belongs to the plaice family. There are three types of halibut available, namely Pacific, Atlantic and Greenland halibut. The Pacific halibut is the most sold species.

The halibut can grow up to 3 to 4 meters long, weigh 200 to 300 kilograms and live up to 50 years. This fish, like plaice, is a flatfish and has eyes that are both to the right and up. The pelvic fins of the fish are symmetrical, and on either side it has a well-developed lateral line.

The halibut has a green-brown to blackish color and a white belly. Its wide and symmetrical mouth extends below the lower eyes. The scales are small, smooth and embedded in the skin and the tail has a crescent-shape.

The halibut is the giant of the flatfish and is therefore also known as the ‘giant of the sea’. It’s a saltwater fish that can be found in waters at a depth of 0 to 1200 meters. This fish feeds on shellfish, molluscs, cod, mackerel, herring and squid.

Chapter 2

Where does the fish come from?

Halibut lives in the cold waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in the Barents Sea, Bering, Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. You often come across these on the Dutch coast.

Halibut is farmed on a small scale in Iceland, Scotland and Norway, among others. The young are bred and placed in sea cages. Because this fish is resistant to disease and stress, it’s very suitable for cultivation.

Chapter 3

How does halibut taste?

Halibut is a white fish and is known for its fresh, subtle taste.

Chapter 4

Is halibut healthy?

Halibut is a moderately fatty fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids that protect us against cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol.

This fish contains vitamins B3, B6 and B12 and minerals such as selenium and phosphorus.

Vitamin B3 is important for the energy supply of the body and the production of fatty acids. Vitamin B6 is important for metabolism, especially for the breakdown and synthesis of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Vitamin B12 not only ensures the production of red blood cells that are necessary to carry oxygen in your blood, but also ensures the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant that helps our body repair damaged cells and reduce inflammation, and phosphorus maintains good bones, regulates metabolism and ensures a regular heartbeat.

Chapter 5

Which wine goes with it?

Halibut goes well with a Viognier or a Chardonnay. It’s a fish with a soft texture and delicate taste, so you can combine it well with a nice Chardonnay or a soft Viognier that’s full of flavor.

If you serve smoked halibut, pair it with a Chenin Blanc from South Africa, a Pinot Gris or a Riesling.

Chapter 6

How to cook halibut?

Halibut combines well with all kinds of ingredients and can be cooked in many different ways, such as pan-fried, grilled or deep-fried.

This lean fish has a soft, sugary white meat that resembles tilapia. It’s thicker and stronger than cod. Because the taste is so sweet, halibut pairs well with strong herbs such as pesto, lemon juice, and basil.

The fish is usually available in slices or fillets and can be bought frozen or fresh from the supermarket or fishmonger. You can also buy halibut steaks, which are a lot thicker and meatier.

You can tell if the fish is fresh by its clear eyes, which should also be slightly convex. Fresh halibut also has a moist and shiny skin that does not show any discolorations. The fish should smell fresh and when you gently press it, no moisture should be released.

It is best to eat fish on the day you bought it. You can store it in the refrigerator for one or two days. You can also freeze fresh fish, after which it will keep for 2 to 3 months.

When halibut is cooked, it feels a bit firm, the meat has turned from translucent to white and flaky and crumbles easily. If the fish is hard, it’s overcooked and if the fish is soft, it’s undercooked. You can count on 150-200 grams of halibut per person.


  • Cut the belly of the fish from tail to head and remove the organs.
  • Remove the fish cheeks with a filleting knife. First, feel where they are and cut in a circle, after which you can take out the fish meat.
  • Remove the fins with a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors.
  • Rinse the fish thoroughly under running water.

You can make a broth from the leftover fish parts.


You can easily fillet halibut:

  • Place the halibut on a flat, sturdy surface.
  • Cut the fish along the gill plate to the bone.
  • Insert your knife into the center of the fish and cut straight down to the backbone. Then start at the head and cut down along the bones with your knife.
  • Make even cuts to easily remove the fillet from the bones.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Turn the fish over and cut the fillets from the belly side. You get four fillets from a halibut.
  • You can remove the skin by sticking the knife about an inch up at the tail, between the skin and the fillet. If you start here, you’ll have a better grasp of the skin.
  • Move the knife down while holding the skin to remove it from the fillet.

Frying it in a pan

If you want to fry halibut, you do it at a high temperature.

  1. Pat the fish dry with some kitchen paper.
  2. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat some butter in a frying pan.
  4. When the butter is melted, carefully place the halibut in the pan.
  5. Fry the fish on one side for 4 minutes.
  6. Carefully turn the fish over and fry the other side for 4 minutes.

In the oven

If you want to cook halibut in the oven, do this at a medium temperature.

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Melt some butter and add some white wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the butter on both sides of the halibut fillet.
  4. Place the fish in a baking dish.
  5. Place the baking dish in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of the fish.
  6. Finally, put the oven on the grill setting for 3 minutes.

Grilling on the barbecue

If you want to cook halibut on the barbecue, make sure the barbecue is hot.

  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Carefully coat the fish with olive oil.
  3. Grill the halibut for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the fish halfway through.

Chapter 7

Recipe: Pan seared halibut fillet with beurre blanc

5 van 1 stem

Pan seared halibut fillet with beurre blanc

A delicious baked halibut fillet served with beurre blanc.
Prep time5 minutes
Cooking time10 minutes
Servings: 4 persons
Author: Cultiviz


  • 4 slices halibut 140 grams each (skinless)
  • 1 lemon for the juice and zest
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 2 tbsp capers drained
  • 2 dl beurre blanc sauce recipe
  • lump butter
  • splash sunflower oil
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • salt


  • Pat the halibut fillets dry with a piece of kitchen paper and season them generously with salt and pepper.
  • Chop the parsley finely and keep it aside.
  • Heat a small dash of sunflower oil in a non-stick pan and fry the halibut fillets on the skin side. Turn them over as soon as the bottom is lightly colored and then add a large knob of butter to the pan.
  • Cook this for another 4 minutes on a medium heat, while continuously spooning the bubbly butter over the fish fillets.
  • Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice, zest, parsley and capers and spoon these over the halibut.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and carefully scoop the fried halibut fillets into a deep plate. Spoon some more of the garnish over it and carefully pour over the warm sauce.

Chapter 8

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with halibut. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.

Pan seared halibut fillet with beurre blanc

Halibut is a flatfish that can grow to an enormous size, specimens of 3 meters [...]