Recipe: Spicy Asian Halibut Soup

Halibut fishing certainly isn’t the easiest and a lot of anglers see it as the classic, “I’d rather be catching than fishing” scenario. Active fishing keeps most going… and floating around the ocean watching a rod tip is quite the contrary. While lagoon, bay and skinny water fishing is way more interactive and produces quite a few legal fish, a lot of the water is dirty and not the best resource for eating (there are a few exceptions). Diving to spear halibut is amazing and potentially productive but, quite honestly, one of the hardest things in the world. There are some specialists out there, but it requires keen eyes, extreme patience, and some luck. Fortunately, I’ve gotten into some nice flatties over the years, and when things have come together, it has been extremely gratifying; compared to most species, halibut are quite elusive. The best bites in Southern California waters come in Spring and Fall. Live bait on a trap rig out at sea, Lucky Crafts and plastics in the surf and skinny waters, or a spear gun on the ocean floor are the best bets (speaking of… thank you @ryderdevoe for spearing/sharing the key ingredient for this recipe).  

spearfish caught halibut

Since halibut are obviously bottom-dwellers, I strongly suggest cleaning them immediately upon catching. If there are any worms, you want to clear that fish out sooner than later. Pack it in ice to get that flesh firm. Cleaning it will be one of the easier parts of the process. Compared to other fish, halibut are quite simple to clean, and there’s literally a road map for you to follow. You’ll see a line in the center of the fish on both sides, so just trace along and go around the fish and run the knife down the ribs. The dark side will be thicker than the white side, but the fish will still yield four beautiful, white fillets. 

Next Recipe: Easy Shrimp Curry

There aren’t many people that refuse to eat halibut. Even people that typically don’t like fish will eat it; that’s a testament to how mild the flavor is. Some fish is what’s known as, “forgiving” where it can be overcooked and still delicious. Black Cod comes to mind because of its fat and oil content. Halibut, on the other hand, is on the other end of the spectrum. Either avoid overcooking it all costs or include it in a soup or stew where it melds in with the broth and accompanying ingredients. Popular preparations are barbequed, pan seared and baked. I’m going to take you outside the box and do a spicy Asian halibut soup, where we’ll mix Korean, Japanese, and Chinese ingredients to create a spicy, intense flavor. And if you’re sick… this is your golden ticket back to health.   

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Recipe: Recipe: Spicy Asian Halibut Soup


  • Take 2 pounds of halibut and mince ½ pound and cube the other 1 ½ pounds. You can get away with less, but there aren’t a ton of filling ingredients in this recipe; it’s ok to be generous.
The Paste:
  • 5 TBSP Gochugaru (Korean hot pepper seasoning)
  • 2 TBSP Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 2 TBSP miso paste
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce/shoyu
  • 1.5 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1 finger of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 TBSP Sake or Soju
  • 2 TBSP Mirin
  • 1 Tsp ground prickly ash peppercorns (Sichuan mouth numbing spice)
Soup Ingredients:
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable or fish stock
  • 1 ¼ pound white daikon radish, peeled and cut into quarter-moons
  • 4-6 long green onions - sliced
  • 1 hot chili - serrano or jalapeno - sliced thinly
  • 1 Tsp each wet ingredients - fish sauce, mirin, sake, and soy sauce
  • Lime wedges
  • Lemon basil or cilantro for garnish (optional)


  1. Start by combining all of the paste ingredients from that section and mix thoroughly.
  2. Next, combine the water, stock, daikon, the minced ½ pound of halibut, the whites of the green onion, and all wet ingredients from the soup section and simmer in a soup pot for 10 minutes.
  3. Add half the paste and cook for 5 minutes. If it’s good, leave it be; if you are looking for more flavor, add more of the paste. Remember this is supposed to be a spicy soup to clear your head.
  4. Once the seasoning is on point, add the 1 ½ pounds halibut that is cubed. It only takes a few minutes to cook, so right when you feel that it’s done, add the sliced green onion and chili. If it’s already heavy on the spice for your taste, consider leaving the sliced chili out only for those who want it. That said, the sliced green onion is an important part and should be added.
  5. Simmer a few more minutes and serve with fresh lime wedges and the (optional) lemon basil leaves or cilantro.
  6. Remember you can always add, but you can’t take out. You can add the paste all the way to the very end, so do so in increments.

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