Last weekend, I fished behind my house and saw another fun fish to catch cruising past my dock: A jack crevalle. Jacks are very strong and put up a huge fight when you get one on your line. They like to chase fast-moving baitfish, but will eat just about anything that you put in front of them.
The guys at Fishin’ Frank’s suggested using a mid- to top-water swimming bait and reeling it in fast with random jerks so it would attract more attention and encourage a strike. But, again, they will hit wide varieties of baits — just get it in front of them. When they strike, get ready for a good fight.
Now, the big question: Can you eat them? I did a bit of research on cooking them and I found some mixed reviews.
What I discovered is the bad reviewers did not take the time to prep the fish before cooking it. These are strong-tasting fish and will never be mistaken for grouper or snapper. By prepping it, I mean that when you catch it, you need to remove the blood as soon as possible because the blood will permeate the meat and give it a strong, oily flavor.
Bleed the fish by cutting its throat as soon as you catch it. This will remove the blood and also kill the fish quickly, which is much more humane than allowing it to flop around until it dies.
Next, you need to fillet the fish and wash the fillets in cool salt water. Put them in plastic bags and put them on ice until it is time to cook them. This procedure ensures the fillets will have a more attractive appearance and have a light pink hue to them.
I think if you do this process you will find that jacks are tasty in a different way from most other fish. The fillets are meaty and might remind you of steak. So, cook them as you would a steak and enjoy. I think of them as my new beef of the sea.
Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.
4 8-oz jack crevalle fillets
4 oz beef stock reduction
Cut the fillet into chunks at least 1.5 inches thick (keep in mind that you’re cooking them like steaks). Brine the fillets with ice and clean salt water. Heat the grill. Season the fish with the Everglades and then spray each side with pan spray. Now spray your pan and place it on the grill. Grill fillets in the pan like you would a steak. Keep in mind that fish cooks faster than beef. If you think it’s done, it’s probably overcooked. Serve dressed with the beef stock reduction. Serves 4.
— Recipe by Chef Tim Spain, ChefTimSpain.com