What’s not to like about bluefish? They fight hard, are readily available through much of the season and are easy to catch. About the only knock against them is that they don’t make good eating—at least that’s the common sentiment among anglers. In my personal crusade to elevate the status of this dependable inshore game fish, I enlisted the aid of Helen Rennie, a French-trained professional chef who happens to hold blues in high regard. Indeed, they are her favorite fish to grill.
“Most fish are difficult to grill,” she says. “Cod, haddock and fluke are all flaky, so they tend to break apart. Bluefish, on the other hand, have a very moist, firm meat that sticks together nicely.”
Rennie’s method for grilling bluefish fillets is fast and simple, and works with any standard propane-fueled gas grill (propane is preferred, as it burns hotter than charcoal). Try it and we think you’ll end up keeping a few more bluefish this season!
The fish can be accompanied by grilled corn and panzanella salad, the recipes for which you’ll also find below.
To learn more about Helen Rennie and her many recipes, visit her website Helen’s Kitchen.
Grilled Bluefish with Cilantro Lime Butter:
Ingredients for the butter (Serves 4):
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature (but not melted)
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1/2 garlic clove, mashed
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Ingredients for the fish:
- Disposable aluminum pan
- 4 pieces of scaled bluefish fillet, skin on (6-8 oz. each)
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp. canola oil, plus more for oiling the grill
- Mash all ingredients for the butter together.
- Store in a cooler with icepacks.
- Scrape the grill clean. Place a disposable aluminum pan upside down on the area where you’ll be grilling the fish. Cover the grill and preheat on high for 10 minutes. Do not remove the pan until you are ready to place the fish on the grill.
- Dry the fish thoroughly with paper towels. Score the skin on a diagonal at half-inch intervals (without cutting through the flesh) to prevent the fish from curling.
- When the grill is ready, sprinkle coriander, salt and pepper on both sides of the fillets. Rub all over with canola oil.
- Remove the pan from the grill. Dunk a wad of paper towel in canola oil. Hold it with tongs and wipe the grill with oil where the pan used to be.
- Place the fish on the grill, skin-side up, diagonal to the grill grates. Cover the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per inch of thickness, or until the fish displays grill marks.
- Slip the tines of a fork between the grill grates and gently push up on the fish. Do this in a couple of places until the grill lets go of the fish. Flip the fish and grill on the skin side 3 to 4 minutes per inch of thickness. To check for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part of fillet with a fork and peek inside. The fish is done when a trace of translucency still remains in the center. The fish will continue to cook once it’s removed from the grill.
- To remove the fish from the grill, first dislodge it with a fork, as you did when turning it, then lift it off the grill with a spatula. Top with the cilantro-lime butter and serve.
Jason’s Grilled Corn
- Any number of ears of corn, peeled
- 2 tsp. butter per ear of corn
- Salt (if using unsalted butter)
- Coat corn with butter using about 1 tsp. of butter per ear of corn.
- Place in a sealed bag and store in a cooler with icepacks.
- Don’t forget to pack extra butter (about 1 tsp. per ear).
- Preheat grill to high.
- Place corn on the grill, cover and cook until it browns on one side. Rotate corn 3 to 4 times to let the other sides brown. Each side will take 1 1/2 to 2 minutes).
- Remove corn from the grill and let it cool for about 2 minutes.
- Rub each ear with another tsp. of butter and sprinkle with salt.
Panzanella (Tomato Bread Salad)
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 2 large slices of rustic bread
- sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
- 2–3 large, ripe tomatoes
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 3 oz. feta or fresh mozzarella
- chopped (optional)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Brush the bread with butter on both sides and toast in the middle of the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet until golden on the bottom, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip and toast the other side until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Dunk the garlic clove in salt and rub all over toast (both sides). Cool the toast completely and cut into large cubes. Pack in a sealed bag.
- Cut tomatoes into wedges and place in a large bowl with onions. Cover with plastic and bring with you. Do not place in the cooler with icepacks, as tomatoes do better at room temperature.
- Add the toasted bread, cheese, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Mix well.
- Add lemon juice and salt to taste.