A simple recipe that will leave you proud to bring a few birds home for the cleaning table.
These days it’s common knowledge that sea robins are edible, and in fact are good to eat, yet I still regularly encounter anglers who haven’t given them a try. And this season, they are also eligible for The Fisherman’s Dream Boat Challenge fishing contest, so a sea robin could very well help you earn this year’s grand prize of a fully rigged Steiger 23 DV Miami if you take the time to weigh it at an official weigh station. That’s two great reasons to look at sea robins in a different light this season.
And if you don’t win the boat, this recipe is sure to put a smile on your face. My hope is that this recipe will help out those who have wanted to try eating our most familiar inshore by-catch, but weren’t sure how to start. This spreadable salad uses a mayonnaise base like the lunch box standard tuna salad, only the flavor, texture, and heath factors are ramped up considerably.
It’s great on a sandwich, in a wrap with some lettuce, spread on crackers, or as a dip as well. I’ve listed my favorite core ingredients here, along with a few optional ones. Feel free to experiment with your own additions. I’d just caution not to add anything onion-related unless you’re going to eat it immediately, as those flavors will intensify over time in the fridge and become overpowering. The next time you’re out fluking, keep a few birds and give this recipe a try. You may never go back to canned tuna salad again. And, as a final note, this recipe works great with fluke as well. Something to keep in mind for those rare days when the sea robins aren’t biting!
Sea Robin Salad – Ingredients:
- 8 ounces sea robin fillets (two to three birds)
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as canola or corn oil
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1/4-cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4-cup apple, finely diced (I try to use a crunchy variety such as gala or honeycrisp)
- 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- Mayonnaise, about a half-cup, or add until desired moistness is achieved
- 1/8 Tsp black pepper
- 1/8 Tsp celery salt
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 Tsp white balsamic vinegar, or substitute 3/4t sugar dissolved in 1 Tsp white vinegar.
- Chives, chopped
- Scallion, chopped
- Jalapeno peppers, finely diced
Pat fillets dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, then fry with the 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over med heat. I like to get a bit of browning on them, as it adds another layer of flavor. Don’t worry about over-cooking the fish. Set aside fillets in a mixing bowl to cool while you prep your fresh ingredients.
When the fish has cooled to near room temperature, mash it up until there are no large clumps. This can be done with a fork, but I recommend using your fingers, as that will allow you to detect any stray bones that may be hiding in the meat.
Add your other ingredients to the bowl with the meat and stir with a fork until mixed thoroughly. Adjust flavor and texture by adding salt, pepper, and additional mayonnaise as needed. If the mixture seems a little wet don’t worry. The protein in the liquid from the fish will gel when cooled and tighten the mixture up. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with additional parsley or dill, and serve.
|WEIGHTS & MEASURES|
On the second day of The Fisherman’s Dream Boat Fishing Challenge, Long Island’s Steve Frost hit a 2.6-pound sea robin that would later become the first official sea robin entry in the annual subscribers-only contest. That fish came by way of Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle.
Four days later, another 2.6-pounder came by way of New Jersey when Eric Matuzsan brought a 19-inch sea robin to Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in South Jersey. However, the most impressive weigh-in during the early going also caught on May 6 was for Long Island Fisherman subscriber Steven Thorschmidt who delivered his 3.75-pound bird to Combs Bait & Tackle in Amityville, NY.
While it’s been established that sea robin makes for a great meal, the obvious question is can a truly big bird be considered a true trophy catch? First person to ask would be New York’s Charlie Plym who was drifting a Fin Strike fluke rig in Shinnecock Inlet on June 1, 2013 when he nailed a 4-pound, 8-ounce sea robin that taped out at 19 inches long. That fish earned Plym a spot in the history books, as it was certified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as an official World Record Catch.
Locally sourced food, international fame, and perhaps contention in the Dream Boat Challenge for 2018. If your subscription’s not up to date, look for the mail-in form in this month’s edition or visit us at www.thefisherman.com.