Snapper Bluefish Recipe

Here’s a timely recipe from Dave “Pops” Masch:

Great Mates: Bluefish and Tomatoes!!

September and October are great months in the Northeast, with many crystal clear days, warm but with a slight cool snap in the air, a sign of things to come. The austerity of winter may be looming, but the cornucopia of harvest is upon us, from both the land and the sea. Sweet corn is at its sweetest, tomatoes are ripe and bursting with flavor, the fishing is at its best, and you can dig clams without freezing your tail. From this cornucopia come some of the meals I eagerly anticipate every year. For me there is a mutual affinity between fish, especially fried snapper blues and ripe tomatoes.

In late August, when the “snap” in the air first occurs, the “snapper blues” (young of the year bluefish, now 6 to 9 inches long) arrive in the harbors and inlets, feeding voraciously in anticipation of winter. You can sometimes catch them on almost every cast using a small spoon, fly, or attractor-and-fly rig.

I have been enjoying, in fact reveling in, pan-fried snappers with raw or sautéed tomatoes several times a week for over a month now, and so should you before it is too late, which it will be in a couple of weeks.

Snappers are a “snap” to clean. You merely take them in hand and make a diagonal cut behind the head and gill covers, cutting through the backbone, at which point you pull the head down, removing it from the body along with the entrails, and “Bob’s your uncle!” You have a perfect little delicacy to pan fry, ready to be coated with seasoned flour and tossed in the pan to achieve immortality.


Seasoned Flour for 8 Snappers

½ cup of all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne (optional, necessary for me)

Put this mixture, or one of your own devising (I often use half flour and half cornmeal or cornflower) into a plastic bag, toss in four fish and shake the bag until they are coated. Remove and cook in hot oil over medium heat until nicely brown and crisp on both sides and keep warm in a 175-degree oven as you fry the next batch. I usually use peanut oil, canola oil also works fine, and butter is delicious but you must watch it carefully to keep it from burning.

I often cut a couple of medium-sized tomatoes in half, dip the cut edges in the seasoned flour left over from coating the fish, and sauté them in the same pan with the fish, either simultaneously or after the fish are done and keeping warm in the oven. When the breading on the tomatoes is nicely browned, I turn them over for a short time to cook through.

Serve this combination with a glass of orange juice, a piece of toast and a cup of coffee, and you will be set to take on the day that unfortunately probably won’t get any better than breakfast. But who knows, you might get lucky.


snapper bluefish yellow eye
A snapper bluefish looks just like an adult bluefish, down to the yellow eye.


snapper bluefish outfit
A freshwater spinning outfit is perfect for catching the 8-inch bluefish.


snapper bluefish fishing lure
If the bluefish are tough to tease into biting, try placing a small piece of bait, perhaps a slice of silverside, on the hook.
bucket of snapper blues
Snapper blues can be kept alive in a bucket of seawater.
snapper bluefish cleaned
Clean them quickly and easily: Cut off the head, and remove the guts.
snapper bluefish scaling
Remove the scales by scraping with a knife blade forward from the tail, and they are ready for frying.
snapper bluefish recipe
Toss the blues in a mixture of seasoned flour until they are well coated.
snapper blue recipe
Fried to a crispy golden brown, they are delicious served with ripe garden tomatoes and some crusty bread.

7 on “Snapper Bluefish Recipe

  1. bob

    Dear Kevin, you might try Mrs Miller’s technique for cooking them (it involves much less fat). This, I believe, comes out of AJ Mclaine’s book on fish cookery. Just grease a pan, put your oven to at least 500, dip the fish in milk & then in bread crumbs. Then drizzle just a little bit of oil on each fillet. They really come out well this way. Good luck…..Bob

    1. Kevin Blinkoff

      Thanks Bob, I’ll give it a try. If the oil is hot enough (Canola) the fish really doesn’t get too greasy – the flour coating is light and the result is crispy. “THe Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery” looks like a good one!


    I like small blue fish ! But do not cut their hads Open stomacs, gills out from hads, only salt to stomac & barbeque certainly ! Make sauce with limon juice, add in liquide oil, melange them, just before take away from barbeque, put it along the body of blue fish ! You´ll eat your fingers,” BON APPETIT”

  3. Diane santaromita

    Love my snappers so many ways. When small, they are so sweet to eat. After fish are cleaned, I dredge them in seasoned egg consisting of garlic powder and adobo. Then coat the fish in flavored bread crumbs you can buy in any store. Then fry in canola oil to a golden brown. Scrumptious. When fish get bigger you can also bake them with Italian salad dressing on them. Another favorite is baking them with onions, fresh chopped garlic, and just a small amount of tomatt sauce on top. Wrap in a tin foil packet and bake. Yum!!!!! I have so many different recipes can’t write them all here. Bon appetite and enjoy.

  4. Alex D

    Just cooked up a nice batch of these tonight… Very very tasty, bones, fins and all. Very sweet when small. No fish taste at all; however, I used EVOO instead of peanut oil. Was a real treat, will be saving this receipe

  5. Hugh

    Organic coconut oil is a great way to fry fish, too. Flavor reminiscent of coconut shrimp, and it’s the healthiest of all oils.

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