AW 1 SHOREWEATHER MILLS
Fred Kern, captain of the 120-foot Miss Belmar Princess, fillets jumbo bluefish on the dock at the Belmar Municipal Marina on 7/13/2000. (Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
I was standing in my driveway one recent morning when my neighbor approached me with a dazed look of shock on his face, that reminded of something from the movie "Tremors."
"There's some crazy stuff going on in the river,'' he said, referring to the Navesink, which runs near our homes. "I've never seen anything like it in my life."
He proceeded to tell me of the incredible amount of giant bluefish he and a group of locals had caught the previous night. Menhaden, the baitfish the blues were chasing, were beaching themselves to avoid their jaws, he said.
He showed me metal wire leader that a chopper blue had bitten clear off someone's line. Evidence of the sheer viciousness of these yellow-eyed choppers.
His story stoked my already-burning frustration that I hadn't found time to fish this spring.
But my jealousy turned to scorn when he told me what he did with his catch.
"I cut em up into bite sized pieces and give them to my dog."
And the dog dish, or someplace other than the human dinner menu, is likely the final destination for many of them. That's because many cooks, anglers and diners hold the believe bluefish do not make good eating.
Many people let them go. Others, as I have sadly witnessed, just kill them and leave them to die on the beach. And yes, apparently, some people feed them to their pets. Because they are a dark, oily fish (like sardines, mackerel, etc.) many people think the meat is too strong or "fishy' tasting.
I am here to tell you that these people are flat out wrong.
I finally managed to get out there and landed enough giant alligator blues to come home with tired arms and a pair of 12 lb. fish last week.
We have two cats, and they're not getting any of this bluefish. I've been eating it every day for a week, (despite health recommendations that I should back off), in all forms. Just finished my last smoked bluefish salad sandwich as I started typing this, as a matter of fact.
My tips for making bluefish not only eatable, but delicious. Eat the small ones: I love the two to six pound fish that have less of the fatty oily meat than the larger ones. I often cook them whole on the grill rather than bother filleting them.
My tips for making bluefish not only eatable, but delicious
1. Eat the small ones: I love the two to six pound fish that have less of the fatty oily meat than the larger ones. I often cook them whole on the grill rather than bother filleting them.
2. Cook 'em quick: Bluefish doesn't keep well, in my experience. Nor does it freeze well. Cook your fish within 24 hours of catching them. 3. Strong sauce: Unlike white flakey fish that need just a bit of lemon, this strong tasting fish needs stronger flavors to stand up to it. I grilled my bluefish and ate them with a tomato bacon butter recipe I pulled from the great seafood cookbook 'For Cod and Country'
I've tried mustard based sauces and olive sauces and dozens of others. But for a large fish with a lot of dark meat, this may have been the best I've ever had.
4. Smoke 'em: I don't have a smoker and my buddy's smoker, which I usually borrow, was kaput. So I winged it by using my Weber gas grill as a smoker and it worked amazingly well. I had another five days of smoked bluefish salad to make sandwiches with. Hint: brine the fish before smoking.
If you still doubt the deliciousness of the mighty Pomatomus Salatrix, I have another story for you: the very existence of my two children could perhaps be considered proof of their fine taste.
See, my first date with my wife consisted of me inviting her over to my Trenton apartment for dinner of two small blues I had caught and cooked on a tiny Weber grill. She had never eaten bluefish before. And I vividly recall her raving about the taste, with a comment that they tasted "like Fruit Loops."