Blue Plate Special: Grilled Bluefish with Cilantro Lime Butter

Chef Helen Rennie serves her grilled bluefish with grilled corn and panzanella salad.

This simple, delicious recipe might just change your mind about the culinary value of the humble bluefish.

By Tom Richardson | Photography by Tom Croke

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.

Just don’t tell that to Helen Rennie, a French-trained professional chef who happens to hold blues in high regard. Indeed, they’re her favorite fish to grill.

“Most fish are difficult to grill,” explains Rennie. “Cod, haddock and flounder are all very flaky, so they tend to break apart. Bluefish, on the other hand, have a very moist, firm meat that sticks together nicely on the grill.”

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). She likes to serve this summer dish accompanied by grilled corn and panzanella salad.

Try her recipe and we think you’ll end up keeping a few more bluefish this season!

To learn more about Helen Rennie and her many recipes, visit






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



Disposable aluminum pie 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 grill

Will and Mason Johnson with the day’s catch.


Make sure to start with a clean grill surface. Place a large disposable aluminum pan upside down over the grilling surface. 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. Lightly 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 at peak temperature, sprinkle coriander, salt and pepper on both sides of the fillets. Coat the fillets with canola oil.

Remove the pan from the grill. Dunk a wad of paper towel in canola oil and, using tongs, wipe it over the cooking surface.

Place the fish on the grill, skin-side up, diagonal to the grill grates. Cover the grill and cook for three to four 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 to separate it from the grill. Flip the fish and grill on the skin side three to four minutes per inch of thickness.

Check to see if the fish is done by separating the flakes in the thickest part of fillet with a fork. The fish is done when a trace of translucency still remains in the center. Remember that the fish will continue to cook after it’s removed from the grill.

Remove the fish by first dislodging it with a fork then lifting with a spatula.

Top with the cilantro-lime butter and serve.