Sheepshead Recipes: Italian Sheepshead
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.
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.