Cut this big, bluewater battler down to size
April is a special time for sportsmen in the Carolinas. Spring arrived a few weeks ago, and Daylight Savings Time has been in effect since early March. The weather is warming, and there are plenty of things to do.
Even though this has been a mild winter, there has been a lot of rain, and sportsmen have already been looking for outdoor activities and dry, warming weather. An extra hour of afternoon daylight and the increasing activity of game and fish have given them plenty to do. They are waking up after their winter rest, and sportsmen are heading to the woods and water to make their acquaintance.
April is the time for chasing turkeys in the Carolinas, and strutting thunder chickens are booming their hen-seeking gobbles through the hollers, across open fields and through the coastal swamps and pocosins. A growing number of hunters live for this month to match wits with a full-grown gobbler.
Fishing opportunities abound from the mountains to the Gulf Stream. Almost every body of water holds challenging fish, but there is something special about leaving a coastal marina in the pre-dawn hours heading for the deep, blue waters of the Gulf Stream. Several species will make any fishermen smile, but this month’s quarry is wahoo.
Catch your own wahoo for the freshest
It wasn’t too many years ago that wahoo were considered solitary fish, and any trip that included more than one in the fish box was special. Fishermen didn’t realize how many of these bluewater cousins of king mackerel were out there. However, as more fishermen chose to chase them, the tactics and techniques improved, and fishermen learned there were far more of them than they had ever imagined.
The best start to a spring dinner of wahoo fingers is to go catch them yourself, but as the catches continue to grow, a good friend might occasionally bring a few pieces by. If you catch them yourself, you’ll be tired and smiling, but you should be smiling however you come up with fresh wahoo for dinner.
Wahoo aren’t just one of the prized offshore catches, they taste extremely good. They are a cousin in the mackerel family but have lighter meat and a milder flavor. They will be excellent table fare as long as you don’t overcook them. This recipe is as simple as I know, and it has great flavor. Cutting wahoo fillets into fingers makes it easier to use in meals and seems to also make it more attractive for those who think they don’t like fish. Give this a try and see for yourself.
Teriyaki wahoo fingers
The most-fun part of eating wahoo is being in the ocean at the edge of the Gulf Stream and reeling them in. It feels like work at the time, and on a good day, your muscles will be sore, but it’s a lot of fun.
It’s also fun to eat them, and that’s what this is about. I believe wahoo is good prepared in any way, but this is a simple way that can be easily prepared after a day of fishing or on a day when you’ve been busy and want to relax outdoors in the late afternoon or early evening.
Most restaurants and fish-preparation guides suggest having 4 to 6 ounces per person. I would suggest allowing at least 8 ounces of fish per person. If there are leftovers, you’ll be happy to eat them later.
When fixing this dish after a day of fishing, I use a fillet from the first wahoo cleaned that afternoon. Cut the fillet into strips a little larger than your fingers and immediately put them in a Ziploc bag with just enough teriyaki sauce marinade to cover them. Squeeze out all the air and put the bag on ice or in the refrigerator. If doing this at home and you have a vacuum sealing machine, put the fish and teriyaki in a sealing bag and seal it with the machine. This will force the sauce to penetrate the fish better in 10 minutes than it will in a couple of hours in a Ziploc. Finish cleaning the boat and the other fish and cook when you’re finished.
This dish is great no matter how you cook it
I personally don’t use any salt, but I add some coarse-ground black pepper. This can be added with the sauce/marinade or just prior to cooking.
I prefer to be outdoors and cook this on the grill; however, it is also very good baked or broiled in an oven, and those who prefer fried fish will find it also tastes very good fried. If you like breader on your fish, use a very light dusting to try it and then add more if that is better suited to your tastes. The exception is for frying, but I still prefer not to bread it heavily. Use a plain or lightly seasoned breader so it doesn’t overpower the teriyaki marinade. I have not tried this in an air fryer and would love some feedback if someone prepares it that way.
Another plus for this is it serves well in a variety of ways. I typically eat it as the entree for the meal and add vegetables, bread and a drink. It also serves well as a salad topper, and my favorite of these is with Asian slaw. For more informal meals or to make it more fun for kids of all ages, the fingers make a good base for sandwiches and sliders. This is versatile and tasty and there will be more than one way you will like it. Enjoy!
8 ounces of wahoo fillet per person
Salt and pepper to taste
Seafood breader (optional according to taste)
Burger or slider buns (if you choose to try it this way)
Cut the wahoo into strips a little larger than your largest finger. Put the strips in a Ziploc or vacuum-sealed bag and cover with teriyaki marinade, then squeeze all the air out of the Ziploc or vacuum seal the vacuum-sealer bag. You may add salt and pepper before adding the marinade or just before cooking.
Allow the strips to sit on ice or in a refrigerator for at least one hour. They will season better and faster when in the vacuum sealer bag. Spray a vegetable tray with non-stick cooking spray, put it on the grill and preheat the grill to medium.
Place the wahoo pieces on the vegetable tray. Cook until lightly done on each side, being careful not to overcook. The time will vary with different grills, but it is about 4 minutes per side on my grill. Remove from grill and serve while still hot.
One the wahoo fingers are cooked, they can be used in multiple ways. I like this as the entree for a meal, with several vegetables or a vegetable and a green salad. It is also very good as a salad topper and I like this with Asian slaw/salad. Teriyaki wahoo fingers are also excellent as the meat in fish sandwiches and sliders. I like to put some Asian slaw on the bottom of the sandwich and add the wahoo fingers on top. The bottom line is teriyaki wahoo fingers are tasty and versatile. You’ll like them in numerous ways, too.