Cobbia is a fish, which in itself was a revelation to me because I had never heard of it until very recently. I think I ordered it once when my wife and I went out for dinner, but I can’t really be sure. When it comes to fish I normally stick to what I’ve heard of, so figure flounder, trout and the like along with shellfish are usually the extent of my marine adventures.
Cobbia is a fish (yes know I repeated that) more commonly known as ling or lemonfish, but also called black salmon or black kingfish. It is a long spindly fish with a top weight of about 180 pounds and a length of about 72 inches, so it is by no means a small fish. It is brown in color, fading to a white underbelly with smooth rather small scales. Its fins actually give it the appearance of a small shark. It is normally a solitary animal but may congregate in small groups during spawning. Living among reefs, wrecks, buoys and the like it is native to warm Atlantic waters, the Caribbean and off the coasts of India and Australia. Closer to home though, it will winter in the Gulf of Mexico and migrate later in the season as far north as Massachusetts. It will feed on crabs, squid and smaller fish, but will also trail turtles and sharks to scavenge. Conversely, it is also a tasty dinner for larger fish like sharks and mahi-mahi.
It has become popular here because it is a very meaty fish with white, flavorful flesh which is delicate, yet very sustaining. Much thicker than say a flounder or even a salmon, portions tend to be smaller in restaurants, but again, filling enough to leave you satisfied. I found it recently at a local market. It looked fresh, being almost an eggshell white color, so I decided to give it a shot. The recipe I tried was very simple…
1 pound of fish, split longways in half
Lemon, capers, some white wine (a citrusy type)
Salt, a few grape tomatoes
Combine the lemon, capers, flour and wine in a small bowl. Add enough flour to form a loose paste.
Lay the fish on a baking sheet. Pour the mixture over the fish and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so before cooking. This will allow the meat to absorb all the marinade.
Slice a few grape tomatoes and place onto the fish. Salt to taste
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and serve immediately.
You will notice right away that this is not a flaky fish but rather more the texture of a steak, so it will not be sufficient to cut into it with a fork. Use a knife and be sure to sop up all of the marinade. Oh, and while I think of it, use a good wine. Never, ever cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink. I used Venica Jesera, one of our favorites.
So, there you have it. A culinary masterpiece you can create in your kitchen. Simple and easy. But be warned. If you serve it to guests, when you tell them it is COBBIA, be prepared to hear, “What?” You may have to repeat it and then explain.
Served with a good Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio, this will become a Friday night favorite as it has here. Enjoy it!