Celebrating Wild Halibut - An Interview with Chef Russell Lowell

Celebrating Wild Halibut - An Interview with Chef Russell Lowell


We are thrilled to have a long-time friend of the company, Chef Russell Lowell, share his thoughts on one of his -- and SeaBear's -- very favorite fish from Pacific Northwest waters:  Wild Halibut


Chef Russell Lowell is a highly successful executive chef, author, master storyteller, and founder of the esteemed Russell's restaurant in Bothell Washington.  Russell is a true adventurer who can be found fly fishing all over the world with flies he ties himself, hiking and hunting in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, and holding his signature Elk Camps each fall.  Learn more at his website HERE.


Below are thoughts Chef Russell recently shared with us about wild halibut, one of his signature items to catch, prepare, and share.




Question:  What Is It You Love About Wild Halibut?

I've been a halibut guy for many years.  I've speared them and caught them, all throughout the Pacific Northwest and down to California, up to 86lbs.  I've got a 50 pounder on the table right now out of Alaska for my restaurant.  We are blessed with this special fish here in this region. Light and delicate.  At Russell's, I teach my team we take the two fillets off a fresh halibut, and quarter each side, so the resulting size is manageable and ready for perfect preparation. I've proudly served wild halibut to guests, dignitaries and friends all throughout my career.  In my book In Search of Duende, I share a fun story about catching and preparing a 40lb halibut for my close friend hockey legend Chris Chelios and group of his famous friends (including John Cusak, Patty Smyth and John McEnroe) down in Malibu. I promised I'd catch a halibut that large and nobody believed me, until we brought it on to the boat and then enjoyed it at a feast that night!


 Filleting the halibut


Question: What Are Your Favorite Ways to Serve Wild Halibut? 

The beauty of wild halibut is how delicate and naturally flavorful it is.  The preparation needs to celebrate this -- give it the glory this amazing fish deserves. I like to start by pan searing on just one side in a hot pan, maybe for a minute, depending on thickness.   Then into a 500 degree oven.  Watch it closely, pay attention to it, it is easy to overcook. Once done, serve with the seared side facing up -- your guests will soak in the beauty of the pure, natural, golden color from the searing. 


Keep it really simple, don't go over doing it with a sauce.  Once seared and baked, all you really need is a pat of unsalted butter.


A second way I love to serve halibut is in a ceviche.  Again, stay SIMPLE.  Some lemon and lime, maybe small specs of jalapeno, some parsley.  Make it at 3PM, serve it to your guests at 6PM.  




Question: What Wines or Beers Do You Enjoy Serving With Halibut?


Raw halibut fillets


Choose a simple white wine, one that is not too oaky or complex.  Again, with the delicate flavor of the halibut you don't want anything to fight it, the simpler the better.  I personally love pairing halibut with a Sauvignon Blanc. My top recommendation is Cymbal from Long Shadows, an absolute icon of the Washington wine world, out of Walla Walla, for 30 years now. 


I personally would not serve beer with halibut… I find the taste and aroma are too overpowering for a beautifully delicate fish like this. But of course its all personal taste!


Question: Anything Else You'd Like To Share About Wild Halibut?

I'll give you my insider's Tip Of The Day.  Off Hansville, Washington, on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, you'll find Skunk Bay.  I've fished off that bay -- out where the depths are about 70' -- for halibut with great success. Landed a 65lb halibut there. It is my secret fishing hole, that I'm now sharing with you!  


SeaBear is proud to feature wild halibut year round, and also in special limited quantities as part of our Fresh & Wild events.