Halibut is a firm, fine-textured fish, halibut poaches, grills, broils, braises, and steams particularly well. It is also good roasted or sautéed. The edible skin need not be removed; in fact, leaving the skin on helps steaks keep their shape while cooking. Common Varieties are Atlantic, Pacific, Greenland, California, and black halibut. “Chicken halibut” denotes a young, small variety of this fish. A member the flounder family and the largest of all flatfish, halibut are gray with some white mottling and have very small scales invisible to the naked eye embedded in their skin. Most weigh between 50 and 100 lbs., but Atlantic halibut can exceed half a ton. Young chicken halibut are much smaller (2 to 10 lbs.) At birth, they have an eye on each side of the head, and swim like a salmon. After six months, one eye migrates to the other side, making them look more like flounder. At the same time, the stationary-eyed side darkens to match the top side, while the other side remains white. This colour scheme disguises halibut from above (blending with the ocean floor) and from below (blending into the light from the sky) and is known as countershading. The Tender chicken halibut is considered best for eating with extremely lean, firm, tight-grained white meat. Halibut are delicately flavorful.
The meat should be sweet-smelling, with glistening pure white flesh that’s free of browning, gaping, and signs of dryness.
Halibut feed on almost any animal they can fit into their mouths. Juvenile halibut feed on small crustaceans and other bottom-dwelling organisms. Animals found in their stomachs include sand lance, octopus, crab, salmon, hermit crabs, lamprey, sculpin, cod, pollock, herring, and flounder, as well as other halibut. Halibut live at depths ranging from a few to hundreds of metres, and although they spend most of their time near the bottom, halibut may move up in the water column to feed. In most ecosystems, the halibut is near the top of the marine food chain. In the North Pacific, their common predators are the sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), the killer whale (Orcinus orca), and the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis).
Sold as Steaks (skin on) are most common; smaller specimens can be available as fillets or fresh and whole (headless and dressed). Halibut cheeks, sold in gourmet shops, are considered a delicacy.