Sheepshead Recipes: Italian Sheepshead

fish recipes

This article is about sheepshead recipes for fish – not for recipes that require using the head of a sheep. Just wanted to clear up any confusion! The sheepshead is a saltwater fish that eats barnacles, fiddler crabs, and other shelled marine critters. They have powerful jaws and teeth that enable them to crush shells in order to get to the meat inside the shells. Their teeth look much like human teeth, which is sort of alarming to see when you’re not expecting it. These saltwater fish are often caught around the pilings and understructures of piers, bridges, and docks, as well as near submerged rocks and other structures. Sheepshead have lean flesh and a mild flavor, and the meat is white. This was my dad’s favorite fish to eat, even though he wasn’t much of a fish eater.

Cooking sheepshead can be done successfully in a number of ways. They can be baked, fried, grilled, broiled, pan seared, or made into chowders and fish cakes. Some people like to cook smaller specimens in the round, but I prefer the fish to be filleted in most recipes. If I’m going to bake or grill a fish, I sometimes prefer an entire fish from which just the scales, gills, and innards have been removed.

You’re going to need a large skillet for this sheepshead recipe – one that has a tight-filling lid. Because sheepshead is naturallylean, it’s easy to dry out the flesh, but when sheepshead is cooked in a sauce like the one in the following recipe, the sauce helps to prevent serving dry fish.

sheepshead fish
sheepshead fish

Italian Sheepshead recipe

What you’ll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, julienned

1 green bell pepper, diced or cut into strips

1 red bell pepper, diced or cut into strips

4 sheepshead fillets, serving size

Salt and black pepper

1 can tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté onion and bell peppers in olive oil until veggies are just starting to get tender. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Rinse fish fillets in cool water and pat dry. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Heat skillet to medium-high heat and sear fillets on both sides. Remove pan from heat immediately.

In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano. Pour over fish fillets. Place onion and peppers on top.

Put the lid on the skillet and simmer for ten minutes, or until all the ingredients are hot. Serve over rice.

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Comments 18 comments

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

I am glad I decided to see what sheephead recipes you were up to. I was so relieved that it was not really about sheep head. I would like to try this fish.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, Cardisa! Sheepshead fish are yummy!

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

Well habee, usually your recipes make my mouth water, but honestly this one doesn't. I don't like fish. Oh well, you can't please us all.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Mary, how can you live in Florida and not like fish?? Do you like shrimp, crab, scallops, oysters, etc?

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

I love seafood EXCEPT fish! I can eat catfish if they are breaded and deep fried so I can't taste the fish. Go back in the kitchen and make something to make me hungry again. I made Chicken & Dumplings last night and made a Hub on that. It was SO good.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I'm so happy to find this recipe for sheepshead. I love, love, love fish and have wondered for years about sheepshead. Now I'm well shcooled (pardon the pun):)

Tomorrow I will drive over to Whole Foods, pick up the fish, head home and try your recipe. It sounds sooooooooo good! Many thanks and kudus to you!


vianasya profile image

vianasya 5 years ago from Indonesia

To be very honest, I don't know about this Sheepshead fish, habee. But I've googling a little and I found that another name for this fish is Archosargus probatocephalus and its range extends from the Mid-Atlantic to Texas. Perhaps that's why I've never heard about it before. This fish is popular in your neighbourhood, but not from where I came from. In my country, we have fish having similar look with this sheepshead fish, we call it 'Ikan Mujair'. Someday when I have the chance to cook this recipe, perhaps I'll subtitute the fish first. Thank's, habee. Great hub! :)

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Thankfully it wasn't about sheeps heads! Sounds like a delicious recipe, but I don't think that we get them over here in the UK probably too cold!

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 5 years ago from California

My education has greatly expanded today.

profile image

jenubouka 5 years ago

This fish reminds me of nemo's cousin, great explanation, and stellar recipe

drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

OMG - a recipe for a sheep's head. Thank goodness it wasn't. But you had me going for a minute there, Holle. If I want to eat any part of a sheep, it will NOT be its head. Rack of lamb perhaps - that would be great, on the pink side with mint jelly. Do you cook that, too?

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Mmm, Mary, I love chicken and dumplings!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Vocal, we enjoy sheepshead recipes, too - when we can catch the wily suckers!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Vianasya, I guess fish everywhere are different, but most sheepshead recipes will work with just about any lean fish.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

CM, you're prolly right - sheepshead fish like warm water.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

tireless, that's always good, right? lol

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Hmm, Nemo's cousin?? lol

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

drbj, I'm not much one for mutton and lamb. Alas.

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