The first time I encountered bluefish was in the Massachusetts kitchen of my friend Jill. Her famously unflappable son John was practically beside himself with anticipation of diving into one of the fillets his mom had prepared.
I had never heard of bluefish, which are indeed blue, both outside and in.
They're an east coast fish, we don't have them on the west coast. Their season is short and they spoil very quickly, so you have to get them fresh and eat them right away. Bluefish are considered sport fishing fish because they are so aggressive.
Oddly to me, the fish isn't that popular to eat. Perhaps because if it's good it's great, and if it's off, it's really rank.
In any case, it can be had cheaply. I bought this big fillet for $2.79 a pound. The bill came to $1.89, which is just unheard of for good fish where I live.
The fish is an oily fish, so if you like canned tuna, sardines, mackerel, you'll be right at home with bluefish. Otherwise, stick to cod or sole.
For this preparation of bluefish, we've baked it in foil with lemon, butter, herbs, and a little white wine. The lemon is particularly important to cut the fattiness of the fish.
Bluefish is also excellent grilled or smoked.
Do you like bluefish? How do you prepare it?
- One bluefish fillet (1/2 pound to 1 pound)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 5 very thin slices of fresh lemon
- 3 pats of butter (about a teaspoon each)
- Several sprigs of fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme, fennel fronds, and/or parsley (or a teaspoon of dried herbs such as Italian seasoning or Herbes de Provence)
- 3 Tbsp dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F:
Place fillet skin-side down in foil-lined-roasting pan:
Cut a piece of foil large enough to enclose the bluefish fillet. (You can double layer the foil if you are working with thin foil). Place the foil in a roasting pan. Rinse the bluefish fillet and place it in the center of the foil, skin side down.
Add salt, pepper, lemon slices, butter, herbs:
Sprinkle the fillet with salt and pepper. Lay a layer of thin lemon slices on top of the fillet. Arrange pats of butter along the top of the fillet. Lay several sprigs of fresh herbs on top of the butter and lemon slices.
Add white wine and lemon juice, seal foil packet:
Create a boat shape with the foil around the fish so that liquid does not leak out. Pour white wine over the fish, and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Crimp the edges of the foil together so they are relatively sealed.
Place in the 350°F oven (or you can put the foil packet on the grill) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the fish is cooked through and opaque.
Carefully lift the fillet from the foil and place on a serving dish. Pour the cooking liquid over the fish to serve.
Smoked Bluefish Paté from Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook