So you don’t like bluefish. I’ve heard it hundreds of times and I don’t believe you. I’ve made a personal crusade out of convincing people that bluefish can indeed shine on the dinner table, and when prepared properly, small bluefish can stand tall with any species we catch here in the Northeast, but there are some prerequisites to consider.
First, I’m talking small bluefish. Two to 4-pound blues are ideal. Second, get the fish right into the cooler, especially in warm weather. Don’t leave them laying out in the sun, but this can be said for any species you keep for the dinner table. Fillet them as soon as possible – on the water or as soon as you get home. There is no need to bleed them when you land them, but it can’t hurt. Cook them fresh – I don’t freeze them away, and I don’t leave them in the refrigerator for more than a day or two at the most.
Now, for the real reason so many people have a problem eating blues. The dark, red meat that runs the length of the fillet along the lateral line is the spoiler. The solution is simple. Be sure to cut out every sliver of this strong and offensive part of the fillet. One bite of this red meat can, and usually is, enough to forever turn you off to eating bluefish, however not everyone agrees with me on this. I have a neighbor who requests I save all of the red meat I remove for her. She eats it – not her cats, in case you’re wondering.
I’ve found the easiest way to rid fillets of most of this meat is to run your fillet knife at a 45 degree angle the length of the fillet – first one side of the lateral line, and then the other. Once you remove the resultant strip, you may want to slice the fillet lengthwise along the groove created by removing the red meat. Trimming the inside edges of the these two pieces of fillet will ensure you get any remaining pieces of red meat that may have been left after removing the strip. This may sound like a lot of work, but in reality adds just seconds to your fillet job once you get the hang of it.
Serves: 2 – 4
- 2 pounds bluefish fillets
- 1 bowl of milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs or flour
- 1/2 inch olive or vegitable oil in frypan
- Parsley, paprika, lemon, pepper and salt (optional) to taste.
Place all of the fillets in a bowl of milk and let soak for several minutes. Dip fillet in a bowl of well beaten eggs.
Roll each fillet in either Italian flavored bread crumbs or flour. Season flour with parsley, paprika and lemon/pepper. Salt is optional. Place fillets in hot oil. I prefer olive oil but vegetable oil works too. Fry to a golden brown, turning once. Remove fillet from pan and layer over paper towels.
Serve hot or cold with wedges of lemon. Serve hot for dinner with tomato and cucumber salad, sautéed spinach and rice. Delicious cold out of the refrigerator for lunch or a snack.
For a real treat, fry up a batch of onions and cook them until they caramelize. Serve the fillets smothered in onions. If you’re a fan of Florida Keys fish sandwiches, get yourself some good bakery fresh soft rolls, add fillets and onions, and top off with your favorite cold beverage. You’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.