Bluefish often get a bad rap. While generating excitement when battling at the terminal end of your fishing tackle, they rarely elicit the same reaction with the salivary glands of most regional anglers we know.
These fun-to-catch, hard-fighting water marauders are frequently viewed as oily, line-slashing pests best suited for rendition into cut bait for bottom fishing versus filleting and cooking.
Those who do eat bluefish, often begrudgingly, typically recommend smoking them or using some other means to mitigate the fish’s perceived limitations. Yet, in the northeastern coastal United States, bluefish are creatively served in some of the finest restaurants.
The next time you’re debating what to do with the bluefish you’ve just brought aboard, save some fillets and try this recipe for bluefish cakes. Captain Ryan Rogers, skipper of the Midnight Sun charter fishing boat out of Reedville, first suggested this dish to us many years ago. He wasn’t quite sure how to prepare it; just certain he had heard it wasn’t bad. With a little research and some culinary trial and error, we no longer get the blues when bluefish swarm the baits. We’re hooked on bluefish cakes.
Bluefish don’t freeze well, getting “mushy” easily. Fillet the fish soon, removing all the dark stuff in the middle of the fillet related to the lateral line. Bluefish fillets take on an almost grayish hue, but they whiten up when you boil or bake them until opaque. This is your first step in making this dish, which is similar in preparation to crab cakes. The fish cakes can be frozen and cooked later. Because the seasonings and chips are salty, we don’t recommend adding any salt. Spicy food lovers can add cayenne or red pepper.
4 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup cracker crumbs
1/8 cup crab-flavored potato chips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons Old Bay reduced sodium seasonings
½ pound cooked bluefish fillets (a little over 1 cup of meat)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon brown mustard
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
Boil or bake fillets until opaque; then crumble the meat. As an alternate, you can also smoke the fillets and then crumble the smoked meat.
Heat oil in frying/sauté pan. Cook onions and green onions in oil until soft. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (cooked onions and green onions, cracker and chip crumbs, parsley, baking soda, seasonings) and add fish, blending gently. Mix wet ingredients (egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice) in a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients. Fold fish mixture into wet ingredients and, using your hands, form your bluefish cakes. Bring butter to a sizzle in the pan you used to cook the onions, add cakes and reduce heat to medium. Brown on both sides, ensuring middle of the cake gets hot. Serve with green salad and your favorite honey mustard dressing or over pasta with citrus cream sauce.
Serves two as an entrée or four as an appetizer. If you serve it over salad, have a crusty bread on the side; if served over pasta, have a side salad. A sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio wine will go well with this, but for something a little different, try a well-chilled Portuguese vinho verde.
Citrus Cream Sauce
This versatile sauce enhances many types of fish, from delicate sea bass to these more highly seasoned fish cakes. A teaspoon of sugar can be added if a sweeter sauce is desired. By changing the ratios of citrus juices and zest, you can make a tangy lime sauce or a sweeter orange sauce. This sauce can be made a day ahead and reheated. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for fried bluefish.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onions or shallots
2 oz clam juice, fish stock, or vegetable broth
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon orange marmalade
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon herbs de province
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Saute onions in oil over medium-low heat until soft, about 1 minute. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, use a wire whisk to thoroughly blend, and cook until reduced to desired consistency, about 12 minutes.