Grilled bluefish with taco sauce

Bluefish, when cooked properly and in a timely manner, make great meals that surprise many first-timers. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

Everyone has their favorite fish, and probably only Capt. Noah Lynk of Noah’s Ark Charters (noahsarkfishingcharters.com) in Harkers Island would put bluefish anywhere near the top of his favorite fish list. He has introduced many clients to the robust flavor of freshly-caught bluefish, and they now enjoy them too.

The trick to enjoying bluefish is to eat them when they are freshest. The next time you catch some 1- to 2-pound blues, ice some down quickly and give them a shot with this recipe. After you try and like it, you can continue through with tortillas and taco fixins next time.

This recipe is simply a way to make a fun meal out of a fish that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Bluefish may well be the Rodney Dangerfield of fish. They are willing biters, often voracious, fight hard and taste surprisingly good. Give them a try. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare those 1- to 2-pounders that seem to be everywhere this time of year.


Grilled bluefish with taco sauce

Put bluefish on ice immediately. And properly cleaning a bluefish makes a world of difference. Remove all of the bones and dark meat where blood flows. Clean and remove as much of this as possible. Wash the fillet thoroughly and return it to being iced on both sides.

Smaller bluefish are better for this recipe. Fish that weigh roughly 1 to 2 pounds are about right. I like to have fillets that weigh at least 4 ounces, but not more than 8 ounces. These seem to absorb the marinade and hold the flavor while cooking.

I rarely add salt to anything, but this recipe is like grits and needs a little salt. Be careful and only use a little to your personal preference. Remember that it is easy to add salt at the table and impossible to remove salt added in the mix. I like coarse ground black pepper and add enough to easily see it in the marinade. Some folks may want to approach this similar to adding salt.

Coat the fillets liberally with the marinade before grilling. Soak for at least 1 hour. Several hours is even better. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

The same caution can be said for the sriracha sauce in the taco sauce. The tablespoon is just enough to get a hint of its taste and many folks will prefer to use more. If you want to bring out the taste of the sriracha sauce, add some more, but do it in small amounts and taste it to avoid adding too much. As the sauce turns redder, it also becomes spicier. I rarely suggest brands, but I prefer the Texas Pete Cha Sauce. It has the spice of sriracha sauce, but not to the extreme of some brands. It also has a sweet, smoky flavor that sets it apart from others.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound bluefish fillets

1/3 Cup avocado oil

1/4 Cup diced sweet onion

1 TSP minced garlic

Fish Taco Sauce:

1/3 Cup sour cream

1/4 Cup mayonnaise

1 TBL sriracha sauce

1 TSP minced garlic

Juice of 1 lime

PREPARATION:

  1. Dice onion.
  2. Mix avocado oil, diced onion, minced garlic and black pepper.
  3. Place fish fillets in shallow dish or pan that has a cover.
  4. Spoon oil, onion, pepper and garlic mixture onto fillets.
  5. Allow fillets to marinate in fridge for at least an hour.
  6. Cover a grill vegetable tray with a piece of aluminum foil and turn up edges to make a shallow pan.
  7. Place fillets on aluminum foil.
  8. Spoon remaining oil, onion, garlic, pepper mixture onto fillets.
  9. Cook, without turning, over medium heat until fish flakes easily with a fork. This will only take a few minutes.
  10. Place a fillet on a plate and cover liberally with fish taco sauce.
  11. Serve while warm.

Fish Taco Sauce:

  1. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic and sriracha sauce.
  2. Spoon fish taco sauce onto each fillet.

Cooking time will vary with the heat of the grill, but should only be a few minutes. Cook the fillets just until they flake easily. This is a reason for smaller fillets, which are thinner and cook quicker and more evenly.

I bought some fresh shrimp while out getting the lime and several other ingredients and couldn’t resist putting several of them in the marinade and adding them to the plate. The shrimp cook much quicker than the fish, so let the fish cook a couple of minutes before adding the shrimp to the grill.

The tray made of aluminum foil serves a couple of purposes. The big thing is that it catches the extra avocado oil from the marinade and prevents flare-ups. This also helps prevent the bottom of the fillets from overcooking since they aren’t turned. It also makes it easy to slide the tray, with the fillets, off the vegetable tray onto a cookie sheet or shallow pan when they are ready to serve.

You can add flour street taco tortillas, cabbage and other taco fixins and use this to make fish tacos. Some folks are tacoholics and this gets them interested enough to try the dish. Enjoy!

About Jerry Dilsaver 1167 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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