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Big Bend Florida Sportsman Guide

 

Amberjack Recipes

 

Forum Question: I have heard people catching amberjack, what is the best way to fix this type of fish should you smoke, grill, fry or bake? Thanks for any info 

Forum Answers: Grilled is good, but I like it best blackened.

Blackened AJ is great......I like better than blackened redfish.......

My next 'test bake' is AJ parmesan......cooked just like grouper parm --one of my favorites......... 

Recipes posted to Forum for Amberjack

 

Clint’s Amberjack

For any of you out there that know me, I'm a pretty big guy...I like to eat and I love to eat good fish...the only fish I've never figured out how to cook is a Monk Fish....only seen one once at HARRY's in Marrietta GA and the only thing I figure you could do with something that ugly was to drop it from a building and watch is jiggle...very ugly thing and someone somewhere pinned the name on it as a "poor man's lobster"....shoot...I've eaten sundried snake and would prefer that to a glob of MonkFish. 

Anyway, I think I scared Big Moe's son off eating AJ's posting that I'd only feed them to my 26 cats....IMO, AmberJack is as good a fish as any that swims. The biggest complaint anyone has in my family to eating AJ's is the bloodline...I usually cut that out unless I'm the only one eating fish that nite...as in dolphin, wahoo, kings, macks, the tuna families and most other highly motabolized fish the bloodline runs laterally down the skin side of the fillet and can easily be removed ..doing this when you dress the fish, even when freezing will reduce the "fishieness" of the cooked fillet. Soaking the fillet in milk prior to cooking will also remove some of the strong fishy taste...AJ's on the grill or smoked is my favorite,,all you need is some good olive oil, basil butter and a super hot charcoal grill....to smoke them...you need a good cure, I think BigBendBrian has posted one of these in the past.

My suggestion to Big Moe is if you wanna eat AJ's only kill the ones just legal...the larger they get..and the warmer the water you catch them in they're more apt to have parasites.....but they cook good too.

 

STICKNFISH’s Recipe 

I'm glad someone finally agrees with me that they are fine eating fish. I personally cook most of my fish all of the same, everyonce in awhile I will try something new, but ye 'ol fryin pan is still my favorite. Last year I finally decided to take a couple of AJ's with a spear and picked the smaller  ones on purpose.."it always seems that with fish, the smaller the better the meat, to me anyhow". Kinda like deer or elk, same rule applies. Well I took them home and my neighbor told me to cut the bloodline out, I did on one fish and left the other one on, "for the sake of science purposes". Well, I really could tell the difference...I let them marinate in some wine vinegar and my super secret kraft italian dressing, threw them on the grill and they turned out good. Minus the bloodline. Since I have zap one almost every chance I get, just one because they have plenty of meat on them bones, and get my neighbor to smoke it. Fish dip mmmm mmmm good. Just a story, but it was like a home comming for someone else to say they enjoyed aj's as well, so I just had to add my .01% of a cent worth. But Big Moe, and 'little Moe' don't be scared of them, they are good eatin fish.

 

Big Wayne’s Blackened Amberjack 

I like blackening best on firmer fish like amberjack. It is a fairly violent form of cooking and fish like snapper that are more delicate can't take as much abuse as something like amberjack. Blackened fish was invented by Paul Prudhomme to try to duplicate the flavor and style of charcoal grilling in a commercial kitchen. He describes the method very well in at least two of his cookbooks. The one I have is called something like the Prudhomme family cookbook and is from around 1987. Many chain restaurants have spoiled the name and style of blackening by dredging fish and other meats in spices, frying it in a pan and calling it blackening. Unless you are at a good quality La. style restaurant, you are not likely getting the real deal.  

The blackening comes from the butter charring in the pan, not from the spices. When the butter chars the instant it lands in the pan, it creates a sealing crust on the fish that keeps it from drying out.  

You need a cast iron skillet, nothing else will do. If you are feeding a crowd, you can use a large 12+ inch one if you have a big enough heat source. The original method is for single servings in a small cast iron skillet as would be done in a commercial kitchen 

If you have been frying fish, you likely have a perfect heat source if you have one of those outdoor frying stands as are sold for Turkey or fish frying. Most gas grills do not generate  enough heat. Do not try to do it in your kitchen. My first attempt was indoors back when I was single and I figured it can't be too bad. The book tells you not to do it indoors for good reason, the smoke it generates is prodigious and nasty. If you only have the gas grill, you have two options. One, take the cooking grate off your grill. Turn it on as high as it will go. Take a large cast iron skillet and heat it up on your stove inside as hot as it can get, until you see a little white ash on the seasoning of the pan. Carry it out carefully and place it directly on the rocks in your grill. Start cooking.  

The second option is to take the the little gas jets and bore them out slightly larger so the grill runs hotter. This is probably against some governmental regulations, but it works. Again, place the pan directly on the rocks.  

If you have a gas fryer stand and a big enough cast iron pan to fit on it without burning yourself, that is the best option. Get it hot enough to see the white ash and get started. In this setup, you do have to watch the heat to make sure you don't get it too hot.  

The main part of the cooking - have your fish be about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick if possible. If it is thicker, it will be tough to get it cooked right without burning. Dredge the fish completely in melted butter. Sprinkle a spice mix moderately on the fish. Paul Prudhomme's mixes are good, but you can use whatever you like. The spice is not the key part of the cooking method. Do not put the fish down while sprinkling or at any time between the butter dredging and hitting the pan. Lay the fish in the pan and immediately spoon a tablespoon of melted butter over the top of it. Be careful, it sometimes flames up.  

Cook 2-3 minutes and then flip. Spoon another tablespoon of butter over the fish. Cook another 2-3 minutes and it's done.  

Of course, when cooking amberjack, be sure to trim the blood line out. I find it easiest to lay the fillet on the cutting board with the blood line down and trim out the "spine" all the way along the fish. Then I cut at an angle to get the rest of the red stuff. Having the part you are working on pressed tight to the board makes it easier for me. For blackening, you want to cut the meat into pieces you can easily handle with a large spatula. Typically 4"x6" or so. If the fish is thicker than 3/4", butterfly it or simply slice that piece laterally in half to make two thinner pieces.

 

Blackened Amberjack by Sea Monkey 

I usually take my iron skillet and put it on the grill with the heat on high for about 30 minutes. The skillet gets hot but not white hot. Then I use some cajun seasoning and butter. I do dredge the fish. It turns out great but the spice can be a little overpowering to the taste of the fish. I usually throw in a dab of butter then put the fish on top, then after 2-3 minutes I throw in another dab and flip the fish on top of the butter. I got burned last time I did that so I like the idea of melting the butter first then dredging the fish through the butter and lightly sprinkling the seasoning. I do have a turkey fryer and I'm ready to go get some AJs. I've eaten blackened fish a k-Pauls in New Orleans and mine never turned out as good as his.