Plenty of tasty options for cooking halibut

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Fishing has been pretty good lately for one of the tastiest fish in the sea — halibut. I’ve had a bunch of folks recently check in with solid reports from San Francisco and Tomales Bay, Shelter Cove, Eureka and Alaska. In the lower bays, California halibut to 25 pounds have been showing up in fairly good numbers, while the big Pacific (Alaskan) halibut to 80 pounds have been coming from points further north. While both varieties are delicious, I give the edge to California halibut as tablefare due to the fact that they are a little sweeter. But you really can’t go wrong either way! So, some of those same folks who have been sending me the reports have also been asking about how to cook up their halibut. The simple answer is: Just about any way you want. White, flaky and extremely mild, halibut takes to all sorts of cooking styles and recipes really well. I like to simply slap it on the grill on foil and add some butter, garlic, onion and lemon. I’ll also sometimes coat halibut fillets in Panko bread crumbs and then pan grill them — or cut them into strips and add them to fish tacos. Yum! But what do you do with all that leftover fish? If you’re like me, you throw it in the fridge, move it around several times and then chuck it out a week later. But there is a better way! Scott “The Sporting Chef” Leysath, the nation’s foremost authority on cooking fish and game and host of the TV show “Hunt Fish Cook” (, tells me that you can make some seriously tasty fish cakes with your leftover halibut. “Halibut is great to make fish cakes out of because it is light and flaky,” he says. “Think of it like cooked crab meat and it’s really good! Make sure that the fish is thoroughly dry, not soggy, before you start assembling the cakes or they will fall apart when cooked. If the fish is uncooked, finely dice with a knife or flake with the tines of a fork.” Halibut and Shrimp Cakes 4 servings • 2 cups halibut fillet, flaked or chopped into pea-sized pieces • 8 large shrimp, peeled, de-veined and butterflied — do not remove the shell from the tail! • 2 - 3 tablespoons flour, seasoned with salt and pepper • 1 large egg lightly beaten • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard • 1/3 cup Japanese breadcrumbs (or substitute any breadcrumbs) • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning • olive oil 1. Dust chopped halibut and both sides of the butterflied part of the shrimp with the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients except olive oil and mix well. Add halibut to bowl and mix well. Mixture should be the consistency of moist cookie dough. If it’s too wet, add a little more breadcrumbs. Too dry, more mayonnaise. 2. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions. You’ll make 2 cakes from each portion. Take half of one portion and press into a ball around the floured portion of a shrimp, leaving the tail of the shrimp exposed. Form into a cake, about 3/4-inch thick. Make sure that the cakes hold together and don’t fall apart. Repeat the process to make 8 cakes. J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him online at