Wednesday May 09, 2012 | 02:42 PM

Holy halibut. I just bought fish.

Perhaps that's not earth-shattering news to you - someone who probably eats fish and knows how to cook it - but for me, today was a life-changer.

With help from Chris at Browne Trading Market on Commercial Street in Portland, I decided to buy halibut. Chris recommended it for multiple reasons (The season's short, he said, so take advantage. And Halibut isn't as oily as, say, salmon, and a higher oil content is what gives fish that "fishy" taste), and when you don't know what you're doing, it's typically wise to take advice. At least that's what I've heard.

So, having zero fish expertise from which to draw, I took Chris' advice. Halibut it is.

Chris removed the skin (halibut skin is thicker than other fish, so people don't tend to eat it, he said) and cut it into portions.

I picked out a seasoning, too: Seven Seas Seasoning from spice merchants Gryffon Ridge in Dresden, Maine.

And while Chris wrapped the fish (and I played it cool while chanting, "I'm buying fish! I'm buying fish! in my head) he passed on a few words of cooking wisdom: When cooking halibut in a pan, cook on med-high heat. Use grapeseed oil if you've got it (oddly, I do) because of its high smoke point. Two and a half minutes on each side should do it. People tend to overcook halibut, he said, so right when you start worrying that you might under cook it - stop cooking it.

Halibut takes on whatever flavors you cook with it so there's no end to the options.

So yes, I just bought a piece of fish. No big deal. Except that I've never brought home a fish before, which means this must be serious.


About the Author

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Shannon Bryan is a feature writer for the Portland Press Herald and content producer for MaineToday Media's entertainment website,

And here's a well-known truth: Shannon can't cook. She's also ostroconophobic (in Maine?!?), but in a foodie place like southern Maine, she's determined to learn how to cook, eat, and order with the best of them. Read about her culinary crusade:
Pans on fire

She's also an investigator into all that's strange and entertaining to do around here. Those findings are gathered here:
Out Going: Things to do in southern Maine

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