Many anglers enjoy catching the feisty bluefish, but once the fish is onboard, the ardor cools. Hooks are torn out and the wounded yet valiant fighter is returned to the sea, often to be eaten by one of its own.
But wait. That’s dinner going back over the side! Bluefish contain Omega 3 oil and is very healthy to eat. The keeper bluefish for a potentially great dinner is just a few easy steps away. Take these easy but crucial steps and you’ll never call bluefish oily again!
As is true with most seafood, the younger the fish, the better quality the meat. The best size for a keeper is a snapper blue to about to five pounds. Once you have determined that the size is right and you are handling your dinner, keeping the fish alive either in a live well, tidal pool, or large cooler with ocean water is key. This is a critical step which will make for the most delicious choice of fillet or steak.
Here’s the rub with bluefish. Once dead, a blue deteriorates quickly even if placed in a cooler with ice. The bait that it has been devouring is left to spoil inside its stomach. The many hormones which are at peak during time of catch will make that “fishy” taste if the fish is not filleted immediately after it dies. This is especially true with larger bluefish which have darker meat and a blood line along the dorsal fin.
To attain mild-tasting bluefish get rid of the dark meat under the skin along the dark blood line that runs the length of the fish. Those are the elements holding the oil and strong flavor. You can either trim the dark meat off and cut out the blood line after you’ve skinned the fillets or use this trick: Before filleting the fish, use the tip of your knife to slit the skin the length of the fish along the back and belly, to the tail. Lift the skin at the tail with the knife, then grab it firmly with pliers and pull the skin towards the head. If you skin it this way before filleting it, much of the dark meat will come off with the skin. Now fillet the white meat off the fish and finish, cutting out the blood line. Either way, you just want the white meat kept on ice once filleted.
Now you have many great choices as the white meat fillets will work well with any of them. Fish sticks are easy to make by cutting the fillets across into strips. Take the strips, coat them in flour, then dip them in an egg beaten in some milk, then coat them with Italian bread crumbs, frying them in a skillet in hot olive or coconut oil. Serve with lemon or tartar sauce. The leftovers, heated with a slice of cheese and tartar sauce, make good sandwiches.
Your white fillets are good baked. Season with salt, pepper and garlic salt, and lay them in a baking dish. Cover them with cream of mushroom soup and bake at 400 degrees until the soup is bubbling and turning brown on the edges and the fish is flaky — about 20 minutes. If you have a smoker, smoked bluefish is very tasty.
Whichever way you choose, the trick is to bleed ’em, ice ’em, fillet ’em and get the dark meat off. They’re also best when eaten fresh, not frozen and thawed. Most New England state’s limit on bluefish is 10 per day with no size restrictions.
Here is a favorite way of enjoying bluefish for you and your guests:
Citrus Grilled Bluefish
- 4 pounds bluefish fillets
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1/4 cupfresh lime juice
- 1/4 cupfresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cupolive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
Marinate for 30 minutes and then grill on outdoor barbecue!
This recipe and good advice was submitted by Stas Birutis, CFO (Chief Fish Officer) at The Shore Fishing Guide. You can reach him at: TheShoreFishingGuide@gmail.com
During the summer we’ll be running recipes submitted to us by you, our readers. Send me your favorite recipe at Lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com