My favorite fish market in San Diego, called Catalina Offshore Products, has weekly coupons that typically include seasonal fish and whatever they happen to have a plethora of at the moment. I was so excited when, a few weeks ago, I started noticing halibut all over their list. I went to the store and, naturally, began chatting up the fish monger and I learned that I was quite unwittingly dropping in during the beginning of halibut season.
There’s a halibut season? I thought to myself. Who knew?Which lead me to my next musing.. I don’t really know very much about halibut at all besides the part where it tastes freaking awesome… and I vowed to soon remedy this.
So let me share with you my new-found internet-generated halibut knowledge. First of all, halibut is actually a type of flounder. This flat, round fish is huge and has been known to grow as large as 700lbs. Apparently halibut are semi-cannibalistic; i.e. will eat lots of different fish with indiscriminate taste and even smaller fish of their same species will do in a pinch.Halibut are most commonly found/fished in the North Pacific, specifically off the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Pacific Northwest of the US. Most commercial fishing of halibut takes place off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington. Halibut season begins Mid-March and typically runs through November for commercial fisherman. For recreational fishers, halibut season does not begin until May.
Although halibut season is long, it’s considered a springtime delicacy as this is the time when everyone gets excited that we can start expecting halibut at the markets again!
So, armed with my new foodie knowledge, I packed up my fresh halibut and trotted on home to make Blushing Halibut Chowder, which is appropriately named for the orange-y/pink hue of the broth that comes from the spices and seasoning seeping out of the rendered Spanish Chorizo. (A hit of Spanish Paprika doesn’t hurt things either).While halibut is the star of this recipe, you could certainly substitute any variety of mildly flavored fish in this recipe. Cod immediately comes to mind. I think I’d avoid something like salmon since I think the flavor would compete too much with the Spanish chorizo.
My one suggestion with this recipe is to make sure to poach the halibut over a low or medium-low flame. If the poaching liquid is too hot you can risk the fish seizing up and becoming a bit rubbery. Flaky, meaty, and tender are textures that I much prefer and this can be achieved through a gentle coaxing of heat.
Happy Friday all!!
Blushing Halibut Chowder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup diced Spanish Chorizo
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 1 lb white potato peeled, and diced
- ¾ teaspoon Spanish paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 3 ½ cups seafood stock OK to substitute chicken stock in a pinch
- 3/4 lb of fresh halibut filet cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chives for garnishing
- In a stock pot over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and chorizo. Crisp chorizo for about 5 minutes and then remove with slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel.
- To the chorizo-infused oil, add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are just softened.
- Add seafood stock, spanish paprika, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Stir and bring mixture to a boil.
- Add diced potatoes and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are easily mashed against the side of the pot.
- Reduce heat to low and add halibut pieces, and poach for about 5-6 minutes or until fish is cooked through, but still tender.
- Turn off the heat.
- Stir in heavy cream.
- Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with chives.