Halibut is one of the most popular types of fish out there. Its hearty white meat makes it perfect for dipping in batter so one can enjoy fish and chips, but it's also beautiful seared only in its own glory. The problem with halibut is that it's really easy to overcook. When that happens, the fish will become quite dry and unappetizing.
Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to lock in the moisture of the fish and enjoy that gorgeous piece of halibut. Check them out below and never again let halibut — or its quick cooking time — intimidate you. And if you're new to cooking halibut, get excited about it; you're in for a real treat!
1. Marinate halibut
Any time you marinate something, it's going to be juicier and more flavorful, and that holds true for halibut too. Most marinades have some type of liquid at its base, and as halibut absorbs that moisture, it can hang onto it throughout its cooking time and that will help prevent it from going dry. You can create a marinade out of just about anything, but there's one go-to avid cooks know pairs very well with halibut. That's good old bottled Italian dressing.
2. Dip it in beer batter
Fish and chips is just good old comfort food. You can tell yourself you're eating healthy, but with that crave-worthy crispy batter surrounding it, so you won't feel like you're eating healthy. There are many good kinds of batter for fish, but the best kind by far is beer batter.
To make a simple beer batter, whisk together one cup of all-purpose flour, one teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Once combined, add in the juice of one lemon and one bottle of dark beer — the darker ones have more flavor. Whisk it all together, and then dip your pieces of halibut in and fry them in a 375 degree Fahrenheit deep-fryer. A large pot filled about halfway with vegetable or peanut oil can also take the place of a deep-fryer for those who don't have one.
3. Coat halibut
Panko, or even plain bread crumbs or flour, can do great things when you're trying to keep halibut moist. They create a barrier between the fish and the direct heat, which allows the fish to stay moist and juicy. As that coating cooks, it also traps all those juices inside, meaning they won't leak out all over your frying pan or baking sheet.
To coat halibut in panko, you can simply press it into the fish or you can set up a standard breading station with flour, eggs, and panko. Adding a little Parmesan cheese and lemon zest into the panko can also give halibut a little bit of pop. When dredging the halibut in flour, simply place the fish in flour and turn to entirely coat. Hold it up to shake off the excess, and then pan-fry it in oil and butter.
4. Cook it in parchment
'En papillotte' is a fancy French term for fish that's been cooked in parchment paper. It's such a simple technique to use, and because the fish is once again wrapped in something, it creates more of a gentle heat for the fish and helps it retains its juices so you get moist fish.
To wrap halibut in parchment paper, simply lay a piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Add the halibut, vegetables such as bell peppers, julienned carrots, or thinly sliced red onions. When adding vegetables, just remember to cut them small, as they won't be in the oven for very long so they'll need to be able to cook through quickly.
Drizzle the entire thing with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice if desired, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sides and ends of the parchment paper together to form a little packet that the fish now sits in. Crumple the edges you've brought up around the fish together to hold them tight while cooking, and then just place the entire thing into the oven. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven and the size of the fish, but typically it will only need 15 minutes to cook in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven.
5. Know how to grill it
If you place halibut on a screaming hot grill, the chances are very good that it's going to stick to the grates and leave you with little bits and pieces of fish. Instead, place the halibut inside a metal grill basket. These little tools are kind of like screens you can place your food into so it doesn't stick or fall down the grates. Brush the halibut with oil or butter to give it some more flavor before placing it into the hinged wire grill, and then place it over hot coals or burners for about five minutes per side. Your fish will not only be flavorful when it comes off the grill, but it will also still be in one piece too!
6. Eat the cheeks!
Halibut is good, but the best part of the fish hands-down is the halibut cheeks! These are found exactly where you think you would find them: on the face. They are each about the size of a scallop and can be cooked any way you'd cook any other part of the fish, but batter isn't recommended. This isn't because it wouldn't work well, but because the cheeks are so good that you'll want to let them be the star of the show!