When Life Gives You Bluefish

September  5, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

We had lived in this condo complex for only 2 months, so when one of our neighbors stopped me and said he was going fishing for blues and did I want some if he caught any, how could I say no? I knew my husband liked bluefish; I could only remember having eaten it once, and I wasn’t a huge fan.

But I can cook, right? (Well, most days….)

I posted the question of what to do on Foodpickle ( and got some great ideas, but none were really right for us. As greenstuff suggested, I googled bluefish-gin, and got a bunch of references, one of which was from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. So I got out my Silver Palate cookbooks, and found a recipe for Piquante Bluefish, which sounded like a great idea. I also liked the idea of using gin in a marinade, so I did that, too. The sauce I made is more like my red pepper and onion confit than their salsa piquante, so it’s a very loose adaptation.

And you can tell that I’m not really a food blogger, because I forgot to take a picture! But it was a great end-of summer meal.

What You'll Need
  • For the Marinade
  • About 1 lb filets of bluefish, skinned and bones removed
  • 1/2 cup gin
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds of fresh-ground black pepper
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 generous tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces
  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted, skins removes, and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. For the Marinade
  2. Place the fish in a large ziplock bag, and add the rest of the ingredients. Mush the liquid all around the fish filets and let the fish marinate for up to an hour.
  1. For the Sauce
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened
  3. Once the vegetables have started to brown, stir in just enough vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape up the fond on the bottom of the pan. Stir in paprika, cayenne and gin, and reduce heat to very low, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to meld together. Add chopped tomato, stir in, and continue to cook covered on low heat until the sauce is melded together. (You almost can’t cook this too long.) Just before serving, raise the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, till sauce reduces and thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
  4. Grill the fish over medium-hot direct heat for about 7 minutes till just cooked through. To serve, put a couple of tablespoons of sauce on the plate and lay a filet or two on top. Serve with a wedge of lime, fresh corn and sliced tomatoes, and be grateful for the bounty of the end of summer.
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  • JanetFL
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15 Reviews

JanetFL May 2, 2013
I've always thought that catching bluefish on Cape Cod was much more fun than eating it. I'm saving your recipe to try when we next take a fishing trip - I think we'll finally enjoy eating bluefish! The best suggestion that I had in the past was to wrap bacon around it and put it on the grill - fish tasting like bacon didn't sound too appealing.
drbabs May 2, 2013
Thanks, Janet, I hope you enjoy it if you do try it.
inpatskitchen May 1, 2013
I must have missed this when you first posted...when I was a seafood retailer we would have bluefish flown in occasionally and all of our East Coast transplants were thrilled (and so was I) I love your take on this!
drbabs May 1, 2013
Thanks, Pat!
EmilyC September 12, 2011
I didn't know bluefish until I moved to the DC area. I love ordering it in restaurants, but I don't think I've ever prepared it at home. Your preparation sounds great!
drbabs September 12, 2011
Thanks, Emily. Sorry for forgetting to take a picture! If you make it, make sure you have very fresh fish.
ashleychasesdinner September 12, 2011
I love the title as well! Marinade looks fantastic!
drbabs September 12, 2011
Thanks, Ashley!
Lizthechef September 12, 2011
Makes me homesick for East Coast fish and seafood - the best...
drbabs September 12, 2011
I think I'd take San Diego weather and produce over east coast seafood any day of the week.
boulangere September 11, 2011
Bluefish is one of my favorite memories from growing up on the East Coast. Our "backyard neighbor" , whose daughter Nancy was our favorite babysitter, would go fishing for them, and share the catch with the neighborhood. This is a beautiful way to bring it to a grown-up age.
drbabs September 12, 2011
Where did you grow up? And how did you end up in Montana? Bluefish is supposed to be a lot of fun to fish for. I saw that there were very few recipes for bluefish on the site (now there are 4), so I decided to post what I did. Thanks.
dymnyno September 11, 2011
Your marinade sounds wonderful!
drbabs September 11, 2011
Thanks--I was looking for something to cut the richness of the bluefish and add some flavors that we like. It was good, but I think that bluefish has to be eaten when it's very fresh and even then, it's an acquired taste.
dymnyno September 12, 2011
I think so. My husband from Connecticut always orders it when we are in the east.