Cobia - Summertime King of the Chesapeake is a Royal Dining Treat When Grilled and Dilled
Updated: Feb 20
When it comes to summertime saltwater fishing in the Lower and Middle Chesapeake Bay, the hard-fighting cobia is the undisputed king. Cobia, now managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is a popular gamefish from Florida to Maryland. The species grows fast, aggressively hits both live bait and big bucktail jigs, and is delicious when grilled or smoked.
The limit in Virginia is one fish longer than 40 inches long per person per day. That one fish will yield several meals of succulent steaks. One thing to remember about cobia, though, is that it doesn’t freeze that well. It’ll keep for a couple months in a well-sealed - ideally vacuum-sealed package - but like any fish, it’s best eaten fresh.
Here are a couple favorite recipes. One was shared with me by Newport News resident Wes Blow, a master angler and cobia fishing expert. Blow cautions anyone filleting cobia to remove as much of the strong red meat along the lateral sides of the fish as possible – and as soon as possible. Don’t freeze it before removing that part of the fillet.
Another simple grill recipe calls for a flavorful smear of dill butter. The summertime side salads, featuring a mix of fresh, roasted and grilled vegetables pair magnificently with these fish fillets. A refreshing, crisp white wine superbly complements this meal, but look for one that isn’t oak aged or has been, at most, minimally oaked. We once had a 2009 Alto Molino Torrontes wine from Argentina that was remarkable with this fish. Torrontes is Argentina’s premier white wine grape and this vintage seemed to have wondrous blend of Riesling, Pinot Grigio and sauvignon blanc flavors and nuances.
Cobia - Wes Blow Style
2 pounds cobia fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Cut fillets into serving size pieces of about an inch thick and 6-8 ounces each and place in a large bowl. Mix together olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Pour mixture over fish and marinate for just 5 minutes; any longer and the lemon juice will start cooking the fish ceviche-style. Remove from marinade and grill for about 8 minutes, depending on fillet thickness. Turn several times, basting with the marinade as desired. Don’t overcook!
Grilled Cobia with Dill Butter
2 pounds cobia fillets
Sea salt and fresh ground coarse pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Dill
½ teaspoon Lemon Juice
¼ teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
Cut fillets into 6 to 8-ounce, inch-thick serving size pieces. Combine butter, dill and lemon juice. Brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on grill and put a small dab – about ¼ teaspoon - of dill butter on the top of the fillet. Smear over the fillet when the butter starts to melt. Turn several times, each time topping with the dill butter. Don’t overcook! When fish is removed from grill, top with an additional dollop of dill butter to serve.
Wash zucchini well and chop off the ends. If more than six inches long cut zucchini in half. You want to end up with slices that are about 2 ½ to 5 inches long. Slice zucchini lengthwise into long slices about ¼ inch thick. If the skin is tough, you can trim most of it away. Brush lightly with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Grill, turning once, until soft throughout.
This salad is a bit of a variation of a Mediterranean Caprese-style salad with the nice, ripe tomatoes and mozzarella, but we adapted it based on availability of vegetables and some deli-roasted favorites at the supermarket.
Fresh Tomato wedges
Roasted and/or sun-dried tomatoes
Asparagus (canned or fresh steamed)
Olives (any favorite Mediterranean variety)
Fresh Mozzarella - sliced
Arrange salad ingredients and drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette.
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
4 tablespoons Olive oil
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon back pepper
½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
Dash of salt
Put all ingredients in a jar and shake to mix.