When I was younger I used to go bluefishing off the Jersey shore all the time. Blues are an amazing fish, but anyone with a color aversion might avoid them because raw, they live up to their name. We used to fish for two kinds… the traditional lunker (generic term for any big ol’ fish) and what was called sandwich blues. See, blues will eat almost anything and because of their voracious appetites they ingest a lot of “stuff.” The general rule of thumb is, if you plan on eating them, take home the smallest of the slot lengths or the smallest overall fish in general because they had the least amount of time to eat junk. I have many fond memories of bringing home way too many filets from each trip for my mom’s freezer.
I’ve always been a big fan of blackened fish and it is among my favorite ways to enjoy Blues (next to grilling them, where they are amazing too). It is one of the single fastest ways too cook fish, which generally, cooks pretty fast to begin with. Do it right and you get a spicy, crispy exterior with a super moist and flaky fish, the fish will not burn, the outside will not “char” in the traditional sense like if you over-toasted a piece of bread. In the case of blues, it is completely your call if you want to remove the skin of the filet. If you scale it lightly the skin is edible and grilled, that is always the way to go, however blackened you can go either way. This recipe, I leave the skin on and only go heavy with the blackening spice on one side of the fish, since the skin adds to the texture and they were really thin filets so I wanted to keep them with the skin. I go skin side up first because i actually find I can control the sear on the flesh side better when it goes down first, especially on thinner filets. By the way, any meatier fish like catfish, redfish, halibut, stripped bass, swordfish, tuna, mahi mahi, etc work well with blackening, though I’ve learned with being careful too with other fish like tilapia.
The blackening seasoning is something I made at home myself with ground cayanne and black pepper, onion and gariic powder, paprika, dried thyme, dried finely crushed rosemary, cumin, and a touch sea salt
cast iron skillet
butternut squash (frozen cubed, thawed)
red pepper flakes
Heat the skillet over a high flame
Coat the bluefish, both sides, with blackening seasoning, concentrating heavily on the flesh side
Dice the onion and garlic
Add the onion and garlic to the frying pan and saute over medium heat
Add the butternut squash to the frying pan and season with black pepper, red pepper flakes and dried cilantro flakes
Add the bluefish to the skillet skin side up first and sear for 1 minute or until it appears to be about 1/3 to 1/2 cooked (blues turn color from blue to white as they cook.
While the bluefish sears toss the butternut squash
Flip the bluefish and cook the skin side of the blue until the skin is crispy and the fish cooked through