Fresh wild Pacific halibut hits retail market

Fresh wild Pacific halibut, known for their delectable white meat, are back in retail seafood shops and being featured as dinner entrees in fine restaurants in Alaska.

Stormy weather greeted commercial harvesters for the season opener in Southeast Alaska on March 15, but the weather has since improved, said Linda Behnken, a veteran commercial harvester and executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka.

Opening day brought 22-foot seas and 50 knot winds, but the weather has been much nicer for the last four to five days, so some harvesters were able to get out and back in one day with their catch, Behnken said March 24.

Processors were reportedly offering commercial harvesters $6 a pound for their halibut catch in Juneau and Sitka.

In retail markets, the famed Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle was hawking whole halibut for $18.99 a pound and fillets at $29.99 a pound. New Sagaya in Anchorage was posted $185.95 for five pounds of halibut fillets, and FishEx, also in Anchorage, was selling fresh halibut fillets online for $46.95 a pound.

Restaurants in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau were featuring a variety of creative halibut entrees on their dinner menus.

In Anchorage, Orso had fresh Alaska halibut with bok choy, bacon, grape tomatoes and pineapple soy sherry for $36.95, while the Crow’s Next at the Hotel Captain Cook was offering Kachemak Bay halibut with de puy French lentils, baby bok choy, sweet corn emulsion, crispy daikon and beach mushrooms for $38.

At the Pumphouse, in Fairbanks, chefs were preparing grilled halibut on pan fried potatoes, spinach, Portobello mushrooms, onions, apples, grape tomatoes and asparagus with balsamic glaze for $32.95.

In Juneau, blue cheese crumb crusted halibut for $34 was on the dinner menu at T.K. McGuire’s. Hangar on the Wharf had cups of halibut chowder for $7.99, and bowls of chowder $9.99, plus wild Alaska halibut grilled with a macadamia nut crust, served with pineapple curry and vegetables for $32.99.