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BAKE IT, broil it, poach it, pickle it—fresh Pacific halibut’s thick, meaty flesh holds up well to any number of cooking methods, which is why chef Quang Dang of C Restaurant on False Creek gets playful when it comes into season in late March.
“The flesh should have a translucent appearance to it. Raw halibut shouldn’t be stone white or creamy—the freshest pieces will almost be see-though. Pick it up—the flesh should have a firm texture—and smell it. There should be no scent; if it smells like fish then it’s old. The rosier the fatline is, the fresher the fish is (the fatline goes grey or brown as it ages and the blood oxidizes). Avoid fillets with cracks or splits—it means that the fish has been abused.” Dang recommends buying fresh halibut from the Organic Oceans fishing boat (at Fisherman’s Wharf on Granville Island) or at FAS (4675 Arbutus St., 604-266-1904. Finestatsea.com).
“Halibut has a very mild flavour so it’s great for people who don’t like fish, which also means it’s a great vessel for flavours. Put some goodies on it! It’s great for surf ’n’ turf because it stands up well to heavy meats. But halibut cheek tataki, drizzled with a sake emulsion mayo and topped with fresh radish and cucumber, is unbelievably light and delicate. I’m loving my version of halibut coq au vin: pan-fried halibut topped with red-wine-braised pearl onions, winter root vegetables, bacon, and morel mushrooms.”
Quang Dang of Vancouver’s C Restaurant demonstrates two rich and (relatively) simple dishes in this Vanmag.com video: halibut cheek tataki and halibut coq-au-vin