I discovered these baby bluefish many years ago while on the water with the local fisherman and once I learned all they have to offer, I’ve never looked back. I have long been a lover of flavorful, smaller fish, like sardines or whiting, and the first time I tried these, I was captured by their moist, cream-colored meat, and thin, young skin–the perfect conductor for heat of the grill.
Here on the North Fork of Long Island, we refer to baby bluefish as snapper, which are mostly caught as a sport–as per the annual Shelter Island Snapper Derby, which is held the last Saturday of August and this year on August 30th. It seems that most people like to eat them dredged and fried, but I prefer them grilled.
Keep it simple with local sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a generous drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil. The real clincher is the sprig of rosemary that I run along the column of the fish like a skewer, that provides a great flavor to which this fish can actually stand up.
Preparing your Snapper:
Clean and clip fins. You won’t need to descale the fish, as they are young and have not developed scales.
Remove the heads if you are cooking for the squeamish. (I like them with the heads, but comply with guest desires.)
Sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavity and exterior, and drizzle with olive oil. Skewer them with sprigs of rosemary.
Cooking your Snapper:
Place on a hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. You will be tempted to leave them on longer, but remember they will continue cooking once you remove them from the grill, and will dry out if overcooked.