Whitefish and Halibut


Whitefish is the name given to a grouping of species that includes halibut, pollock, cod, flounder (sole) and rockfish. Of these fish, halibut has gained the distinction of being the premier whitefish. Its firm, dense texture has made it a popular alternative to steak. Pollock, cod, flounder and rockfish also boast specific texture and flavor characteristics, but they are grouped together because they share lean, flaky white flesh that is mild in flavor.


Halibut enjoys the distinction of being the largest flatfish living near the bottom of the ocean. They are found in water depths ranging from 60 to 3,600 feet. Female halibut frequently tip the scales at 150-200 pounds, while some reports show record halibut weighing over 500 pounds and measuring 10 feet in length. Halibut have both eyes on the top of their head and will burrow their flat bodies into the sandy ocean floor when in danger. The firm, succulent flesh of halibut is low in fat. Its texture makes it well suited for all cooking methods.


Pollock is one of Alaska's most plentiful renewable resources. In fact, more pollock is caught each year than all of the other species of seafood combined. In 1993, the pollock catch weighed in at around 3.3 billion pounds. When pollock are netted and brought on board the fishing boat, the catch is so large it is measured in metric tons.

A good portion of the pollock catch is used to make surimi seafood, a white fish protein that is used to make imitation seafood as well as other processed foods. Pollock is also a popular choice for fish and chip restaurants. However, in recent years, pollock has gained in popularity for home use as consumers have begun to appreciate its delicate white flesh as well as its economical value.


Alaska cod is sometimes referred to as Pacific cod or true cod. Cod is in the same family as Atlantic cod, although the Pacific cod catch far surpasses the Atlantic cod catch. Like other finfish, virtually all of the cod catch is quickly chilled, processed and frozen. Cod is nearly always sold as fillets. Its snowy white flesh has a distinctive, large flake and delicate flavor that makes it a natural pairing with herbs and light sauces.


Provided by Alaska Seafood



Selection & Storage

Atlantic Halibut is white, big-flaked, tender and lean. Pacific Halibut has a very mild, sweet flavor, yet it combines its delicate taste with firm texture, making it a perfect fish for appetizers and skewering. Halibut is an oceangoing fish with both eyes on one side of its head. The snow-white meat is low in fat content and quite firm. Defrost frozen Halibut in refrigerator in a wine or lemon juice marinade with dill, oregano, garlic or minced onion. Store fresh in the refrigerator for 2 days or in freezer for 2 months

Preparation & Eating Tips: Ideal for microwaving, grilling and skewering, this firm fish cooks quickly, so be careful not to overcook. This fish may also be steamed, baked, poached or fried.

Substitutions: Cod, Grouper or Snapper. Snapper will take longer to cook.

Nutrition Facts: Serving = 3 oz. (edible portion broiled) Calories = 120; Protein = 22gm.; Carbohydrates = 0gm.; Fat = 2gm.; Saturated Fatty Acid = 0gm.; Cholesterol = 30mg.; Sodium = 60mg.; % U.S. RDA Vitamin A = 3%; Vitamin C = *; Calcium = 5%; Iron = 5%
* Less than 2% of the U.S. RDA

Preparation Time: 45 Minutes


  • 1 pound Halibut steaks (approximately 1 inch thick)
  • 1/3 cup low-cal Italian dressing
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a shallow microwave dish, place steaks with thickest areas to outside edges of dish. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over fish. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes, turning once. Turn back one corner of plastic wrap for venting. Cook 4-5 minutes in microwave on HIGH power (100%), rotating dish 1/4 turn after 2 minutes. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Garnish with lemon slices. (Recipe courtesy of Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.)


Provided by Try Foods International, Inc.


Pasta and Roasted Norwegian Cod
with Shrimp in a Tomato and Scallion Sauce


12 Portions
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time 10 to 15 Minutes (if the sauce is made while the cod is cooking)

  • 12 (4 oz. each) Norwegian cod fillets
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups clam juice or fish stock
  • 8 cups of good quality marinara sauce, homemade or commercial
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Chopped black olives (optional)
  • Cracked black pepper (optional)
  • Cooked pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To make the sauce, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, and simmer the sauce for 3 minutes. Arrange the Norwegian cod fillets in a roasting pan. Drizzle the fillets with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When the Norwegian cod is almost done, bring sauce up to a simmer, and add the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute (the cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the shrimp.)

Set up 12 plates of hot pasta. Set a cod fillet on each plate of pasta. Top the cod with the sauce and shrimp, dividing the shrimp evenly among the 12 plates. Mix the two cheeses and sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons over each plate, along with the scallions, option black olives and black pepper.

Note: The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillet. Cook the fish for 10 minutes for each inch of thickness, or until a skewer inserted into the fillet meets no resistance.


Provided by Seafood From Norway

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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