How to Cook Redfish: 3 Tasty Recipes
Throughout the Gulf South and Southeastern Atlantic States, Redfish are one of the most sought after inshore species by anglers. Hard fighting and great for sight-fishing, Redfish are a blast to fish for and they make exquisite table fare too. Redfish have a light flavor and firm flesh, making them very versatile to cook with. If you've ever wondered how to cook Redfish, here are three tasty recipes that bring out the best of this wonderful fish.
While you can eat any sized Redfish, the smaller legal sizes — 16 to 24 inches — are usually preferred for cooking. Larger, older fish over 27 inches generally have tougher meat, and may also have worms in the tail section of the flesh. The smaller fish, however, are very easy to clean and can be prepared in many delicious ways.
One of the quickest, easiest and tastiest ways to cook Redfish is on the grill, scales side down. With the thick scales of the Redfish on the grill, the fish stays moist while picking up that delicious grilled flavor. The traditional preparation of this recipe uses simple spices — salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and parsley — but feel free to mix it up and get creative with other spices!
Six Redfish fillets with skin and scales on, pin bones removed
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Two large lemons cut in half
1. Rinse the fillets with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the fillets with salt, pepper and chili flakes, then drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over the fillets. Use your fingers to distribute the oil and spices then set aside to marinate.
2. Light a medium-hot charcoal fire or set your gas grill to medium-high. Once the grill has reached cooking temperature, place the Redfish fillets on the grill, scale side down. Cover the grill and let cook for 7-10 minutes until the fish is just cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
3. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cooked fillets to a serving platter or plates. Sprinkle the fillets evenly with coarse sea salt, chopped parsley, and remaining olive oil. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fish, and serve "on the half shell."
In the 1980's, New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme popularized blackened Redfish, and it became so popular that new restrictions on commercial fishing for Redfish had to be instituted so the species wouldn't be fished to extinction. Now, it's just an incredibly delicious way to prepare Redfish with a distinctively Cajun flair.
The recipe below includes the ingredients and instructions for making your own blackened seasoning, but Chef Paul Prudhomme's blackened seasoning will work as well. In fact, this is what I use for blackening my fish.
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 2 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
- 6 Redfish fillets
1. Combine all spices in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat and let it get very hot. To achieve the signature blackened crust, high heat is required and it can get very smoky. Make sure your exhaust fan is on high, open some windows and consider turning off your smoke detectors while cooking.
3. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into six separate ramekins, and the remaining butter into a shallow bowl.
4. Dip each fillet in the bowl of butter, making sure both sides are thoroughly coated.
5. Sprinkle the mixture of spices on both sides of the fillets evenly and generously, using your hands to pat down the spices.
6. Carefully place the fillets in the hot skillet. Pour 1 teaspoon of melted butter over each fillet. Cook for about 2 minutes until the underside looks charred.
7. With a spatula, turn the fillets over and pour 1 teaspoon of melted butter over each fillet again. Cook for about two minutes more until done.
8. Transfer to plates and serve with a ramekin of butter on each plate.
Courtbouillon (pronounced "coo-be-yon") means "brief boil." It’s a tomato-based Creole dish that’s similar to the French "Bouillabaisse." While you can make this with other types of fish, Redfish is by far the most famous, and you often don't see the word Courtbouillon without Redfish before it.
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 6 whole allspice
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 to 3 cups water
- 1 medium sized redfish, fillet and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 lemon sliced
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large cast-iron pot.
2. Add the flour to the oil to make a roux. Stir constantly for 30 minutes over low heat until the roux is a dark brown.
3. Add chopped onion, green onions, bell pepper, garlic and celery then stir. Cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Add red wine and chopped tomatoes then stir. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
5. Add chopped parsley, bay, thyme, allspice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and 2 cups of water then stir to mix all ingredients well. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom to prevent the mixture from burning. You may need to add extra water, but you want the sauce to remain thick.
7. After simmering for 30 minutes, add the pieces of fish and lemon slices to the sauce and continue simmering. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the fish is fully cooked.
8. Serve in bowls over white rice.
Not only are Redfish an amazing species to fish for, but they're also mighty tasty too. So if you're lucky enough to live in the Gulf South where Redfish are bountiful, do yourself and anyone at your dinner table a favor and go catch some Redfish. With these recipes, you'll know how to cook Redfish that won't disappoint!