Barbecued Bluefish

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Every October, my family and I, along with hundreds of other zealous fishermen, head for the South Carolina coast for the sole purpose of challenging the huge schools of ferocious bluefish migrating down the Atlantic. Like mackerel and tuna, fresh bluefish, with its fatty, well-textured flesh, is a perfect fish to barbecue, the one stipulation being that it must be dressed literally within a few hours of being caught and the dark, oily underbelly removed to eliminate a strong, fishy flavor. When buying bluefish fillets at the seafood market (never touch bluefish that has been frozen), always sniff them carefully for offensive odors, and be sure to cook them that same day. A little extra care should always be taken when dealing with bluefish, but once it’s been properly barbecued, you’ll agree it’s one of the most delicious fish imaginable.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • 4 fresh bluefish fillets (about ½ pound each)
  • Peanut oil, for brushing


Ignite a layer of charcoal briquets in an outdoor grill, let them burn till ashen (30 to 45 minutes), and place the grill rack about 6 inches from the coals.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the fish and peanut oil, whisk till the sauce is well blended, and set aside.

Brush the fish lightly with the oil, place on the grill, and cook 10 to 12 minutes on each side or till lightly browned and flaky, basting once or twice per side with the sauce.

Transfer the fish to a platter and serve immediately.