Friday, August 21, 2015

Cobia with Caper Sauce

by Sheila Connolly

Oops, they did it again: the fish department in my local grocery store slipped in a new fish. Cobia—what the heck is that?

Of course, I am a good guinea pig, so I had to try it. I also promised the person behind the fish counter I would report back to her, since she hasn’t tried it yet.

Disclosure:  this is a farm-raised fish, imported from Panama, and previously frozen. I dutifully looked it up on Wikipedia, which informed me that it is a species of perciform marine fish of the genus Rachycentron and the family Rachycentridae, and has also been known as black salmon, ling, crabeater and prodigal son (huh?). It can be as long as six feet. I will spare you the rest of the details, save that the Wikipedia article says “it is a very curious fish, showing little fear of boats.” It is popular in aquaculture, and it appeared on Iron Chef in 2008 in “Battle Cobia.” I must have missed that episode.

Bottom line: it is a firm-fleshed fish, with a mild flavor, and adaptable to most cooking methods. But when I went hunting, I found few recipes, so I combined a couple. Use it in any recipe that calls for a sturdy white fish. It will stand up to grilling.

Cobia with Caper Sauce

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/4 lb cobia fillets, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained

In shallow dish (or use a plastic bag—less mess!), stir flour, salt and pepper (note: I decided to spice it up a wee bit and added a half-teaspoon each of cumin and dry mustard). Coat the fish pieces in the flour mixture (reserve the remaining flour mixture). 

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the coated fish in oil. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until fish flakes easily with fork, then remove from heat (another note: if your pieces are skin-on, make sure they are cooked through or the skin will be hard to remove, but don’t use a high heat. Patience!). Remove fish from the skillet to a serving platter and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the skillet (leaving the drippings in the pan) over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the reserved flour mixture, then cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. 

Stir in the wine and cook about 30 seconds more, or until thickened and slightly reduced. Stir in the chicken broth and lemon juice, then cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened. Stir in capers.
When you serve, spoon the sauce over the fish.

My verdict? Cobia doesn’t have a distinctive flavor of its own, but would go well with a variety of sauces, or with none at all. It’s study and holds up well in cooking. We’ll probably be seeing more of it in stores. Will I make it again? Probably. One warning: try to get pieces that are all the same size, or else they will cook unevenly.

And you thought planning a wedding was hard? Try solving a 25-year-old crime at the same time! And keeping an eye out for wandering alpacas. Life is never dull in Granford, Massachusetts.

A Gala Event, coming October 6th. You can pre-order now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. What a fun discovery -- thanks for sharing! If it shows up in these waters, we'll know what it is!

    1. I don't think I'd like to meet one in the wild. It's a little odd when I'm taste-testing the new fish for the person who sells the fish (she's very nice, and German, and a whiz at measuring precisely one pound of anything by eye.

  2. Never heard of it before either. And laughed when you said you were a good guinea pig, because that is what I always told the family we were having when I tried out a new recipe: guinea pig food.

    1. I like that! My family flinches when I'm in a market and say, "oooh, they have (fill in the blank)!"

  3. Sheila your sauce sounds so great that I think anything would be good with it. I'll have to keep an eye out for this fish. I hadn't heard of it before today.

  4. Sounds like a good recipe.
    Too bad the fish is farmed. I'm not fond of farmed fish, too many "if's".

  5. Sounds good, don't believe it's made it to our markets yet, but I had read about it. Your recipe sounds tasty--I'm reading it at bedtime, but I'm hungry!