I love catching bluegill. But to be honest, before this I had never actually eaten one. Everyone says they taste amazing, but do they really? Is it worth the hassle of gutting and filleting them for such a small amount of meat? I decided it is time to try it out for myself. Here is my report.
Bluegill taste surprisingly good. It is comparable to cod in that it has a firm, flaky texture to it. But the difference is obviously that you get thinner fillets. This means that too much seasoning may cover up the taste of the meat.
I almost always practice catch and release, but I do enjoy eating fish every once in a while. This typically ends up being trout, but personally I prefer ocean caught fish.
If I was to try to compare the taste of bluegill to trout, I’d say that bluegill have a firmer texture and a less fishy taste (depending on where you catch them). Texture is important to me and so I’d have to say that bluegill is better eating than trout.
I also have to say that I have yet to come across anyone who has anything negative to say about the taste of bluegill. Some may complain about the small size, but they all seem to love eating some fresh caught bluegill.
I don’t claim to be any sort of a chef, and this isn’t a recipe site. But if you are wondering what to do with the bluegill you have caught, here are some popular bluegill dishes I came across. Hopefully these will spark some ideas.
Deep Fried Bluegill
If you aren’t a huge fish person, then deep fried fish is a good way to start. You know what they say; just about anything tastes better deep fried.
And this is the method I used for my first bluegill taste test. There are a lot of batter, and fish fry mixes and recipes out there. Personally, I love a good fish and chips style beer-batter!
Deep frying bluegill fillets will pretty much cover up any fishy taste that your bluegill might have. That’s why I say that it’s a good way to start if you are unsure whether or not you’ll like eating fish.
Here is the recipe I used, except I reduced the baking powder to just 2 tbsp. It turned out great!
I’ll have to catch some more bluegill to try this one out. I’ve had sardine sandwiches, but this sounds way better.
All you do is fry up some bluegill fillets, and stick them between a couple slices of lightly toasted bread. Add some lettuce and mayonnaise, maybe a freshly sliced tomato and have yourself a BLT… bluegill-lettuce-tomato sandwich.
Poor Man’s Lobster
This was an interesting way to cook bluegill, and apparently it tastes pretty dang good.
I have heard of poor mans lobster being made with other fish, but it takes a special type of fish to turn out right. Halibut, cod, and bluegill are some of the most popular.
What makes fish like bluegill, and cod work so well is that they have firm, flaky white meat. After all, nobody want’s to eat a mushy lobster.
This bluegill dish is pretty easy to make as well. You can find plenty of recipes out there but basically, you boil some water with sugar and half a lemon, then add your bluegill. When the fish floats to the surface, scoop it out, and enjoy it dipped in melted butter. Doesn’t that sound good?
Pan Fried Bluegill
Personally, pan fried fish isn’t my favorite, but some people love it. I’m probably just a terrible cook, but my pan fried fish tends to come out a little soggy, and extra fishy.
But that being said, it is a fairly easy way to cook fish. And if you don’t have enough oil for a deep fry, then this is a good solution.
Basically, you’ll toss the bluegill in some batter or fish fry mix, then pan fry it in some butter.
I’m going to go Asian style with this one. I’ve spent a few years living in Asia, and they love eating fish. Although I haven’t tried bluegill prepared this way, I can imagine it would taste great!
What you do is gut the bluegill, but don’t fillet it. You can even leave the head on if you want it to be more authentic. Lay the fish in a pan and add some water, soy sauce, green onion and ginger so that the fish is just about halfway submerged or less.
Put a lid over the pan and let it simmer until the fish is cooked through.
The important ingredient here is the ginger. Ginger does a great job of getting rid of the fishy flavor.
Once the bluegill is cooked, you can use a fork or a pair of chopsticks to pick the flaky meat off the bones.
Eating the bluegill off the skeleton is the best way to get all the meat possible.
Japanese Shioyaki (Salt Broiled)
I think the Japanese love fish more than most. They eat fish of all shapes and sizes, and one method they use is called shioyaki. This translates to salt-grilled.
I think it is a great way to eat small fish like bluegill because you can pick through and get as much tasty meat as possible.
Traditionally you would descale the fish, cover it in salt and cook it under a broiler. As you eat it, you would eat the salt-crusted skin along with the meat.
However, even if you don’t want to eat the skin, at least some of the salt flavor will soak through to the meat.
This is a great way to eat fish if you really want to enjoy the taste of the fish. There are no distracting seasonings or thick batters to cover it up. Just the lightly salted fish.
Shioyaki is so good! I’m sure bluegill would taste great cooked this way!
After trying bluegill, I’d have to say they are a really good eating fish. The texture is firm and flaky. They don’t have a strong fishy taste, although I’m sure that depends where you catch them from.
I have also spent a good bit of time looking for others opinions. I have yet to find a single person who says they don’t like to eat bluegill. Many people rank it is their number one favorite fish to eat.
So if you are still wondering, I’d say the best way to find out for yourself is to cook it up and try it. Hopefully I was able to spark some recipe ideas for you.
If you need some help catching bluegill, check out my panfish page.
Hope that helps!