Halibut is a versatile fish with a mild flavor. It pairs nicely with a range of ingredients and can be cooked in a number of ways. But what if you need a halibut substitute for one reason or another?
What are the best halibut substitutes? The best halibut substitutes include flounder, turbot, striped bass, cod, dogfish, haddock, fluke, sole, and tilapia. These fish varieties work as a halibut substitute thanks to having a texture or flavor (or both) similar to halibut.
In this article, you will learn about halibut fish, including its texture, flavor, and uses in cooking. We have also made a list of the 9 best halibut substitutes you can use instead of this flatfish.
Halibut – Taste, Texture, and Uses
Halibut is a collective name given to one of the largest flatfish families. Two of the most common halibut varieties include Pacific halibut and California halibut. Atlantic halibut is also a popular halibut variety.
However, it should be avoided as the Atlantic halibut is considered to be an endangered species.
Halibut has a very low-fat content. This lean fish has a subtle and sweet flavor. This is why halibut is many people’s go-to fish. The flesh of halibut is white and firm.
The texture of the meat can be described as fine-grained and dense. Properly cooked halibut has a flaky texture. As halibut lacks natural oils, it dries out quickly if you cook it longer than needed.
Halibut is a healthy fish worth including in your diet. It is a great source of protein. Halibut contains omega-3 and other fatty acids.
It is also a good source of niacin, selenium, magnesium, vitamin B6, B12, and other minerals and vitamins.
Cooking with Halibut
Cooks like working with halibut as it is very versatile and can be prepared in a number of ways. Just keep in mind that halibut has a low-fat content and overcooking it or exposing it to dry heat will cause it to dry out.
The skin of the halibut is too tough to eat. You will need to remove it before or after cooking the fish depending on the cooking method you are using.
Halibut pairs well with a range of foods, including potatoes, mushrooms, and a number of other vegetables.
Popular Cooking Methods
Here are the most common cooking methods used for halibut.
- Steaming. Steaming halibut in the oven wrapped in foil yields great results. You can steam the fish with soy sauce or lemon juice for added flavor. Both California and Pacific halibut remain delicate after steaming.
- Baking. Baking halibut is another easy and quick way to cook this fish. All you need to do is to cook the halibut in the oven preheated to 400 degrees for around 15 minutes or until the flesh is flaky and has an all-around opaque color. To prevent the fish from drying out you need to use olive oil, butter, or some kind of sauce.
- Poaching. Poaching is a great way to prepare halibut if you want to infuse it with different flavors. For example, you can poach halibut in a mixture of white wine and broth. You can also use tomato sauce and enrich the flavor of halibut with such ingredients as garlic, butter, and herbs.
- Grilling. You can also grill halibut. Oil the grill grates and the fish to prevent the halibut from sticking to the cooking surface. A good tip for grilling halibut is to do it with the skin down to prevent the fish from falling apart.
- Deep-frying. One of the most popular uses for halibut is frying it for fish and chips. If done right, you end up with delicate and juicy fish under the crispy batter.
- Pan-searing. Pan-searing halibut takes around 10 minutes. Olive oil, salt and pepper, butter, garlic, and thyme – everything you need for a perfect pan-seared halibut fillet.
Is There A Substitute for Halibut?
Halibut is available year-round. You can buy it both fresh and frozen. However, sometimes you may need a halibut substitute for one reason or another. You may need a more affordable option or something with higher fat content.
No matter what dish you are making, you can always find a substitute for halibut. While the flavor may not be exactly the same, you can always find an option with a mild flavor and similar texture.
What To Consider When Making Fish Substitutes
There are a few general rules that apply to all cases of making fish substitutes, including substituting halibut for other fish varieties.
Here are the basics of making fish substitutes.
Choose A Substitute Of The Same Size And Weight
When making a fish substitute make sure the alternative you are using is of the same size and weight as the recipe calls.
The size of the meat should be the same for two reasons. First, it will be in proportion with the rest of the ingredients in the dish.
And second, this will help prevent undercooking or overcooking the fish if, of course, the substitute fillet has the same thickness as the fish initially called for in the recipe.
Pay Attention To The Type Of Cut
When substituting halibut or any other fish with another fish variety, consider the type of cut you need to use for the dish.
You can have different types of fillets, including a whole fillet and cross-section.
Choosing a similar cut is important not only because different dishes call for different cuts but also because the cooking time may change depending on the cut you are using.
Consider The Flavor Profile And Texture
When making fish substitutes, it is very important to consider the flavor profile and texture of the fish.
When it comes to texture, you choose between the three types of fish—delicate, medium-textured, and firm. As for the flavor, fish can be mild, moderate-flavored, and full-flavored.
Halibut, for example, is a fish with a mild flavor profile and a firm texture. When looking for a substitute for halibut it is good to look into fishes with similar texture and flavor.
Think About The Cooking Method
It is also important to consider the cooking method you will be exposing the fish to.
For example, the best cooking methods for halibut include steaming, poaching, pan-searing, and baking.
When picking a substitute for halibut for a dish where it needs to be poached, pick an alternative that can be cooked efficiently in the same manner.
The 9 Best Halibut Substitutes
As mentioned earlier, halibut is a fish with a mild flavor profile and a firm texture. While each fish has properties unique to itself, there are multiple options that come close to the taste and texture of halibut and can be cooked the same way.
Here are the 9 best substitutes for halibut!
Flounder is the name of a group of flatfish. While there are different types of flounder, Pacific flounder is one of the best varieties to have for dinner as it has a great taste and is very healthy.
Flounder is similar to halibut in terms of its low-fat content. The flavor profile of flounder is mild like halibut. In fact, flounder is described to be a sweet-tasting fish too.
But what makes flounder different from halibut is its texture. It’s texture is much more delicate and softer than the firmness of halibut. And the texture of fish decides which cooking methods will work best for it.
Use flounder as a substitute for halibut in dishes where it needs to be poached, broiled, or pan-fried. Grilling is not the best cooking method for flounder.
Despite its low fat content, flounder fish turns out juicy if you cook it right.
Turbot is another popular flatfish and a good substitute for halibut. What makes turbot a good alternative for halibut is its flavor.
The flavor profile of turbot is mild with a hint of sea flavor. The texture also comes close to halibut. While turbot is not a firm fish, it is medium-textured.
The flesh of turbot is pure white with large flakes. The best cooking methods for turbot fillets include poaching and steaming. If you are cooking a whole turbot, grilling, baking, or roasting it are also good ways to cook turbot.
The fat content of turbot may be slightly higher than the fat content of halibut. However, you should still cook it carefully to not dry it out.
3. Striped Bass
Striped bass, also known as Atlantic striped bass or rockfish, is a freshwater fish that can substitute halibut thanks to its mild flavor and medium texture.
It is a silvery fish with a white belly and dark horizontal stripes. As this fish variety has low population levels, industrial fishing for striped bass is restricted by law.
Striped bass has white and flaky flesh. While it has a low-fat content, it is enough to make the fish feel buttery.
When it comes to cooking methods, it is important to choose ones that will enhance the natural sweetness of striped bass.
You can broil, sauté, and sear striped bass. Steaming and roasting are good cooking methods for cooking striped bass too.
You can use the same cooking methods for halibut and striped bass. However, keep in mind that, unlike halibut which has skin that needs to be removed before or after cooking, the skin on striped bass can be eaten.
Cod is one of the most popular fish in the United States. Fresh cod is available at fish markets nearly all year round.
Cod has flaky flesh and a mild flavor profile. Some say the flavor profile of cod is even milder than that of halibut. The texture of the two fish is different though.
While halibut has a firm flesh, cod is medium-textured and has flaky flesh. Additionally, halibut is thicker.
With this said, cod is still a great substitute for halibut in dishes where the fish needs to be baked or poached. You can also fry cod for fish and chips as well as sauté it with vegetables.
Dogfish is another substitute for halibut if you are looking for an alternative with a similar texture. It has a firm flaky texture. The flesh, however, can have a reddish hue as opposed to the white flesh of halibut.
Flavor-wise, dogfish is mild and sweet but falls within the moderate flavor category of the fish. In comparison to halibut, dogfish also have a relatively high-fat content.
You can cook dogfish in a number of ways. Grill it or fry it for fish and chips. Dogfish is also the kind of fish you can use to make stews and soups.
Haddock is a saltwater fish from the cod family. Aside from being one of the best fish to eat for health, haddock is a very sustainable choice as there is an abundance of this fish variety in the Atlantic.
Haddock is easily recognizable thanks to its purplish color, white belly, and a dark stripe along its entire body.
If you are looking for a lean halibut substitute, haddock is one of the best options to go for. As far as the texture is concerned, haddock has medium flakes. It is not as dense as halibut but it stays firm and chewy after cooking.
The best ways to cook haddock include baking, broiling, smoking, and steaming it. You can also poach and pan-fry haddock.
Fluke, also known as summer flounder, is a delicious flatfish that lives from Northern Carolina to Maine.
It is a good substitute for halibut as it has the same flavor and texture characteristics. Like halibut, fluke has a mild flavor and a firm texture.
Fluke is always a good choice for people who are not big on fish as it lacks the typical fishy smell and has a delicate flavor.
The best way to cook fluke is to pan-fry it or bake it.
Sole is another flatfish variety that can successfully substitute halibut in many dishes. It is most commonly found in the waters of the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.
Sole is a very healthy option. Like halibut, it is rich in vitamin B12, selenium, and many other vitamins and minerals.
This fish has a mild semi-sweet flavor that makes it versatile and good to replace halibut in many dishes. This flatfish has a unique firm and flaky texture.
You can cook sole in a number of ways. It will particularly well in recipes where the halibut needs to be baked, steamed, or grilled.
Tilapia is a freshwater fish and one of the most popular fish varieties in the United States. It is not surprising that tilapia has become a staple among seafood lovers. This fish is quite affordable, has a mild flavor, and is easy to cook.
Tilapia is also a very healthy choice. Just like halibut, it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It is similar to halibut in terms of texture too. Both varieties have firm and flaky texture and white lean flesh.
You can bake or pan-sear tilapia for the best results.