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Thread: halibut meat

  1. #1
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Default halibut meat

    My girlfreind and I went on a halibut charter last weekend and we caught 4 fish. all between 15 and 30 lb. Three of the fish had some what translucent flesh that is just like the other halibut that I have caught before, but one of them had a real milky appearence. The milky colored flesh was noticably softer both raw and cooked. All the fish looked pretty much the same on the out side and they were all treated in the same manner. I think it was one of the smaller fish. Has any one encountered some thing like this before?

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    Member Tight Lines's Avatar
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    Default Halibut??????????????

    Your "halibut" may in fact be an arrowtooth flounder which are common in southcentral waters but not as common in Southeast. They are often confused with small halibut. Arrowtooth flounder have a more pointed head, larger scales, and a longer mouth with numerous needle-like teeth. They turn soft when cooked because heat activates an enzyme in the fish that breaks down the flesh.


    DD

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I was wondering about that. I had seen pictures of them before and thought I could tell, but if one of them was an arrow tooth then I am not sure how I could tell. I looked at each fish fairly close and did not notice a diference in shape, coloring, or teeth, but then I did not have much opportunity to directly compair. so I am not sure if I could tell.

    Is arrow tooth's flesh soft when raw?

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    Member Tight Lines's Avatar
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    Yes it is softer than Halibut but not so much you would notice rite off.
    it is much softer after it's cooked. It was just a guess on my part.


    DD

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    If you were on a charter, I surely hope they both know the difference and would tell you if the fish in question was an arrowtooth. There are halibut that have meat as you described, sometimes called "chalky" or "jello" halibut. Check out the halibut recipe thread under the "Alaskan Pantry" forum on the Directory's website. Scroll down and you'll find some discussion on such halibut.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

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    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    I agree with tight lines sounds like you got a arrowtooth in the mix

    Nickster they know they just aren't always as honest as you and I. Too bad to it's a minority of captains giving them all a bad rep.

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    I doubt you would mistake an arrowtooth for a halibut if you had both together. They look similar but they are obviously a different fish.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Hmm the captain said nothing and the deckhand was so new that he propably knew less then me. Though the captain did not land all the fish though he did clean them.

    Well I never saw them next to each other and the decriptions I had heard previously said Arrow tooth were darker and more solid color. These all were the same color.

    This fish the raw flesh was noticably softer then the other fish. I could easily push my finger through the flesh. The other fish was noticably more firm.

    Next time I think I will be able to tell so thanks for the help

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Chalky halibut is what you have. It has been an increasingly common problem, especially for the commercial fish. The reasons why halibut develop chalky flesh are not well understood, but it is characterized by milky-colored meat that is softer. We get paid substantially less for chalky fish, though there is no way to know until you cut it open.

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Chalky halibut is what you have. It has been an increasingly common problem, especially for the commercial fish. The reasons why halibut develop chalky flesh are not well understood, but it is characterized by milky-colored meat that is softer. We get paid substantially less for chalky fish, though there is no way to know until you cut it open.
    He hit on the head...
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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Arrow tooth have big pointy teeth that are hard to miss, I think brian's dead on
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    ok, Thanks for your help

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    Default Yup Chalky

    and I Give it away to anyone that wants it. I've read that it can happens from a stressed out fish, sick fish etc. We'd get about one of those every trip last year.

    Luckily there is always someone at the dock willing to take it off my hands

    Cuz I just wont eat the stuff - its probably not bad for ya, but I'm not taking the chance

  14. #14
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I have heard that in some fish there is a parasite that turns the flesh mushy. Haven't heard about them in halibut.

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    Default Chalky Halibut For sure

    The charter skipper and deckhand would have to be brain-dead to be passing turbot (Arrowtooth flounder) off on clients as halibut.

    You have described a "chalky" halibut, big dog. Different IPHC studies have attributed the condition to stress, lactic acid buildup, temperature abuse, poor feed, and etc. (It could have been a fish that had been hooked, played, and released or got off the hook on its own.) Unfortunately, I get one once in awhile in our area. Its too bad you can't easily detect the problem when you boat the fish - that way you could let it go and keep the next.

  16. #16
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    You have described a "chalky" halibut, big dog. Different IPHC studies have attributed the condition to stress, lactic acid buildup, temperature abuse, poor feed, and etc. (It could have been a fish that had been hooked, played, and released or got off the hook on its own.) Unfortunately, I get one once in awhile in our area. Its too bad you can't easily detect the problem when you boat the fish - that way you could let it go and keep the next.[/quote]

    I have found that you can be fairly acccurate at detecting these chalky fish before you bring them aboard. Certainly not a science, and definitly not a fool proof thing. carefully examine the fish, look for motteling of the white side. most chalky's will have brownish to black motteling comming from the fin area (outside edge of the filet). most will be skinny and not have that plump look. look for any wounds and/or diformities. Any of these signs, drop em back. Obviusly this does not work if you gaff them first!!
    funny thing we have found is that approx. 90% of the chalky fish that we have kept, are males.
    Anyway as i said, not scientific, but it might help many from keeping the chalky ones by paying close attention to the fish when they are caught.

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    Default Chalky Flesh

    A friend of mine prefers to 'bleed' his halibut by cutting the gills immediately after boating. I prefer to place my fish in the deadwell alive. There's a fair amount of water. Ice is only used on overnighters. Later, when we're standing side-by-side at the cleaning table, his fillets' flesh appear milky white while my fillets have more of the translucent appearance. He's happy with his fillets, I like mine. The lack of ice causes temperature abuse and speeds deterioration. Now, if we used ice, I don't know how that would affect the appearance of the bled halibut. While this is mostly off on a tangent, I think it supports the idea of stress, early death (causing retention of lactic acid in the cells), and temperature abuse enhances the chance of milky-fleshed fillets.

  18. #18

    Default Starved Halibut??

    A buddy and I caught a Halibut that had one whole side of it's mouth / jaw ripped off. So it had a very hard time eating anything, I would guess. The meat was exactly as talked about here.

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    You would also know Arrowtooth by the taste. The are terrible IMO and are better used for crab bait anyways.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_dog60 View Post
    My girlfreind and I went on a halibut charter last weekend and we caught 4 fish. all between 15 and 30 lb.
    An exceptionally large arrowtooth may possibly reach 15 lbs but that would be rare. I believe a chalky halibut is what you got.

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