The dark, rich meat of bluefish, say some of its detractors, tastes too fishy. That leaves more for bluefish lovers, who beg sport fishermen for their catch and grab the fish when they see it in markets. Bluefish is indeed a strong tasting species and as it sits, the taste seems to get stronger. Fresh from the sea, the flesh is milder than it is a day or two later.
Here, fillets of bluefish are heaped with a crunchy paprika-scented panko topping (use sweet paprika for a mild mixture; hot paprika for something more fiery; smoked paprika for an element of surprise). Fine, crisp Japanese breadcrumbs, mixed with a little olive oil and garlic, are a nice counter to the dark meat. Pack the crumb topping on the skin side of the fish or on the flesh side, in which case you can leave the skin in the pan when you remove it. If you’re serving first-time bluefish eaters, crumb the flesh side. Skin is only for the initiated.
|Olive oil (for sprinkling)|
|2||pounds boneless bluefish|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|¼||cup olive oil|
|1||teaspoon hot or sweet paprika, or smoked paprika|
|1||clove garlic, finely chopped|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh parsley|
|1||lemon, cut into 4 wedges (for serving)|
1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. Cut the bluefish into 4 even-size pieces. Set them in the dish, skin side up if you’re adding crumb topping to the skin, or skin side down if you’re adding topping to the flesh.
3. Sprinkle the fish with oil, salt, and pepper.
4. In a bowl, combine the panko, olive oil, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Press the crumb topping onto the skin or flesh of the fish.
5. Bake the fish for 12 to 15 minutes or until the crumbs are golden and the fish is cooked through. If the crumbs are not golden, turn on the broiler and slide the dish under it for 2 minutes, watching it carefully so the crumbs do not burn.
6. Transfer the fish to plates. If you cooked it skin side down, slide a wide spatula between the skin and flesh of the fish, so the skin stays in the pan. Sprinkle the fish with parsley and serve with lemon. Sheryl Julian
This column offers ways to prepare native ingredients from the farmers’ market, farm stand, or fishmonger. To see previous recipes for hake, zucchini, eggplant, corn, striped bass, tomatoes, and more, go to www.bostonglobe.com/food.