In the beginning of my fishing career, my biggest dilemma was salmon or halibut. King crab was already wrecked in the 1980’s due to overcapitalization and global mismanagement. Top crew had fled salmon boats to jump on halibut boats as the price for salmon plummeted and halibut soared into the stratosphere. I saw an opportunity to get in cheap and wait for the market to stabilize. Ten years later, the salmon industry was in worse shape, while halibut was still ascending. I questioned my ability to make good business decisions when salmon dock prices hit 5 cents a pound while halibut was at $3.75 to the fisherman.
It reminded me of my Grandfather’s stories of the dustbowl days in northeastern New Mexico. He was a market contrarian. When others were selling out, he was buying small farms and ranches and built an empire of cattle, wheat, and corn over a 60 year period. He gave advice to anyone who would stand still to listen. A true statesman with a moral code, he enjoyed a reputation as the “Sage of Sedan”.
Salmon has proven sustainable over the last 20 years, while halibut stocks have been in slow decline. Salmon fishing with a well trained crew is a pleasure to me, while halibut fishing felt like a prison sentence with a chance of drowning.
In spite of my personal feelings, halibut is a resource in demand and available as a luxury fish. Well harvested halibut by a dedicated crew can be an amazing experience. Half of the time, when you order halibut off a menu in America, it is substituted with another whitefish, farmed or wild caught, with or without the retailers knowledge.
I have maintained healthy relationships with honorable fishing boat captains in Alaska. After catching millions of pounds of fish, I am an expert on grading fish quality. I am proud to share the highest grade of halibut I have seen in years. Pearly white, boneless, skinless half pound portions with a pedigree. Come see us for halibut filet! Here’s a recipe to get you started:
Alaska Halibut with Lemon Dressing
1-1.5 pounds of Alaska Halibut Filet (cut into 4 portions)
6 Tablespoons butter, divided
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
4 sprigs rosemary
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green part only), sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
5-6 ounces baby spinach leaves
2 Tablespoons dry white wine or vegetable broth
1. Heat broiler/oven to medium-high heat (450F). Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Arrange filets on a lightly buttered baking sheet.
2. Broil 5-7 inches from the heat source for about 5 minutes. Remove fish from oven, and place 1/2 tablespoon butter on top of each filet. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, then season with sea salt and pepper. Return to oven and cook an additional 4-6 minutes for thawed/fresh fish OR 7-10 more minutes for frozen filets. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.
3. Meanwhile, add remaining butter to saucepan with the lemon zest, remaining lemon juice and mustard. Heat gently, whisking until melted, then add the rosemary. Keep warm.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large pan’ cook the leeks and zucchini over medium heat until soft. Add the spinach and wine or broth, stirring until the leaves have wilted, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Serve the halibut and vegetables, pouring the warm lemon and rosemary dressing over filets.
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