Posted by: Kiersten | August 23, 2010

Halibut – the cheeky fish.

Yesterday, our neighbour Rick knocked on our door and asked “Would you girls like to see a halibut?”

Uh, yeah!

We scurried down to our dock where Rick had docked his boat and laid out a four foot long halibut and two large chinook salmon.  (By the way, the salmon in the Ukee Days post is a chinook.)

I’d never seen a halibut fresh out of the water before.  I had no idea that they have eyeballs on one side of their body, like a flounder.  As juveniles, their eyes are on either side of their head, but as they mature, one of their eyes migrates to the other side of it’s head and the fish gets a topside and a bottom side.

thanks to http://bioweb.uwlax.edu for the image

We watched as Rick disassembled the fish, deftly inserting a thin boning knife into the white bottom side and following the “seam” to the tail.  Then he used a large, rounded butcher’s knife to peel the meat away from the rib cage.  It slipped off the skeleton in one long, boneless strip.

As a sport fisherman, Rick takes much better care of his fish than a commercial outfit can afford to do.  He dispatches the fish quickly after it’s pulled from the water, then he hangs it by the tail and bleeds it out, something that would never happen to fish that ends up in a grocery store or restaurant.  The resulting meat is crystal clear, almost opalescent.  Rick chopped us two meals worth of this beautiful meat and handed it to us.  Lucky, lucky us!

Next, he carved the cheeks from the halibut, and showed us the oversized, scallop-like pillows of meat that is the best part of the fish, a premium cut, much like pig cheeks.  I didn’t know that fish had cheeks.

In under five minutes, the halibut that had been caught less than an hour before was in pieces on the table.  Rick picked up the four foot long skeleton and told us he’d use it in his crab trap.

Nothing wasted.

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