If you’re like us, you get giddy at the thought of trying a new kind of seafood, and that was exactly our reaction the first time we heard about cobia fish. Although it doesn’t get as much attention as some other species, we’re big fans of cobia.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become a cobia lover, and then some. We’ll share some of our ways for how to cook cobia as well as where the fish comes from and where the best places to get it are.
Cobia goes by many names. Its high fat content and firm texture have earned it the name black salmon in some places, although it’s not in the same family as salmon at all. It’s also known as black kingfish and lemonfish. As the only member of its genus, cobia is relatively unique in its spawning and feeding habits, range, and taste.
Unfortunately, cobia are typically solitary outside of mating seasons. So, they’re not often found in groups large enough to be commercially fished and harvested. Recreational fishing is where most wild-caught cobia comes from.
However, cobia is exceptionally well-suited to farming and lends itself to sustainable farming practices. That, along with its rich taste, makes it an ideal candidate for aquaculture. Open Blue Cobia is an aquaculture organization that focuses on cobia farming and is widely considered one of the most responsible cobia growers.
For most food-related intents and purposes, cobia is an idea fish. It’s hardy, large, easy to breed, and fat-growing. Many experts think it will become the farmed fish of choice around the world in the upcoming decades.
Cobia is often described using words like buttery and clean. It’s a white fish with a flakey texture and mild taste. It’s fattier even than some species of salmon, which makes it especially flavorful and gives it a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. The high fat content also helps it maintain that flavor and texture regardless of the preparation method.
There’s no other commonly eaten fish that it can be compared to directly, but you can think of it as a cross between salmon’s buttery mouthfeel with the texture and firmness of mahi-mahi.
The simple answer to the question of cooking cobia is: you can cook it any way you want. Whether you choose to grill, bake, pan-sear, or eat raw, cobia maintains all the same great tasting notes and doesn’t dry out or become stiff.
Here’s a very simple recipe if you just want to try out your first cobia. Try to find Open Blue Cobia if you can, since it delivers the most consistent and quality fish.
Before you start, preheat your oven to 425°F. Then, heat your olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat in an oven-safe skillet or saute pan. Season the cobia fillets with salt and pepper and turn up the heat to high to sear the fish on each side. Place a pad of butter on top of each fillet along with some sage or thyme and transfer it into the oven.
You’ll need to bake the fish for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are. Flip them once as they cook in the oven. When the fillets are completely white and opaque, they’re done. Optionally, squeeze half a lemon on the fish while it’s still in the pan.
Serve the fish with a side of your choice and drizzle a little bit of the pan sauce on each fillet when you serve it.
Like many other cobia recipes, the previous one focuses on letting the cobia do most of the talking. This next one is not complicated, but it introduces some other flavors that will show you what a versatile fish blue cobia is and how well it can complement complex flavor profiles.
Here’s what you’ll need:
First, season your flour with salt and pepper and coat the cobia fish fillets in the flour mixture. Keep the remaining flour for the caper sauce. In a non-stick skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil to medium-high and place the floured fillets in the hot oil. You’ll want to cook each for about 10 minutes.
If your cobia fillets are cut in a triangle shape, turn them for about three minutes on each side. Otherwise, turn them only once while they’re cooking. Once the fish flakes are separating easily, it’s done.
Remove the blue cobia from your skillet and heat the remaining drippings over medium heat before adding a tablespoon of the seasoned flour. Stir in the wine until it thickens and comes to a light simmer, and then stir in the chicken broth and lemon juice. Stir the sauce until it’s smooth and, finally, add the capers.
When you serve these fillets, sprinkle them with the chopped parsley and then drizzle generously with the pan sauce. You can serve these with your choice of side, but a rice dish works particularly well. A wild rice risotto or similar dish is a perfect choice.
Lastly, we’re going to share a simple grilled cobia recipe that can be done in as little as 20 minutes. Here are the ingredients:
Cobia takes marinades well and won’t become over seasoned in a marinade like some other varieties of fish. Combine all the ingredients to create a marinade and allow the cobia fillets to marinade in a zip-top bag for about 10 minutes while you preheat the grill.
Once the grill is ready, grill the fillets for about 3–5 minutes on each side or until they start flaking easily with a fork. Discard the unused marinade and serve the grilled fillets immediately. This dish goes very well with salsa and grilled vegetables. A medley for your favorite grilled veggies will do the trick, or you can opt for vegetable skewers.
That about wraps up your cobia lesson, and we hope you learned enough to decide that this fish is certainly worth a try. As we already mentioned, we’re huge fans of cobia and serve Open Blue Cobia proudly at Stubborn Seed.
If you want to taste cobia the way it was meant to be eaten, reserve a table right now at Stubborn Seed. We serve only the freshest cobia in a carrot aguachile with torched clementines, pickled carrots, and a Middle Eastern spice blend called zahtar. It’s a flavor explosion like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.
Are you ready to try cobia yet? Which one of the cobia recipes in this article are you most excited about? We love hearing from readers, so let us know in the comments below.