With more and more people taking to the outdoors, anglers across the country are turning to more sustainable species of fish when keeping fish for a meal is the goal. The real hero species, like tripletail, rise to the top, saving the more sensitive species for repopulation. Tripletail grow incredibly fast, with a healthy female capable of producing up to 8 million eggs every year.
For Capt. Benny Blanco, full-time fishing guide, host of Guiding Flow TV, Captains for Clean Water ambassador and Mercury Pro Team member, announcing to his family that there is fresh tripletail in the cooler is a surefire way to become the MVP in the Blanco household. In fact, when his daughters were younger, they loved their “Special Fish Nuggets,” a name they playfully coined. Now, the truth of the matter was that Special Fish Nuggets were nothing more than cubed and breaded tripletail, fried up to a palette-pleasing, golden-brown crispness.
Tripletail can be found in the Pacific Ocean, from California to Nova Scotia, but they are most often seen in tropical, temperate waters across the globe. Blanco targets the species in the Everglades, on structure near the Gulf Coast and on the flats of Florida Bay. Structure ranges from crab trap buoys and hard flat edges to potholes and downed trees. And because they take to fly, soft plastic or live shrimp equally, they are a welcome sight for anglers.
Because they can easily camouflage themselves within floating debris, tripletail will often take shelter there for long periods of time, thus providing anglers with ample opportunity to make presentations before the fish get spooked. The best presentation remains close to the surface and should be made accurately to fish-holding cover or structure. When executed correctly, a bite is practically guaranteed.
Blanco is delighted to share his recipe for baked tripletail, a family favorite.
Recipe (Serves 4)
- 8 tripletail fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 lemon
- 1 ½ cups, panko breadcrumbs
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Begin by applying a thin coat of olive oil to a baking pan large enough to accommodate your fish fillets without crowding. You shouldn’t need more than a tablespoon of olive oil. Then, after patting the fillets dry with paper towels, place them on your freshly greased baking pan, with the thinnest pieces near the center. Salt and pepper each fillet to taste.
After mincing your garlic, combine with the butter in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. To prevent the butter from splashing, you might consider covering the bowl with a small plate or lid. Heat in increments of 10 seconds until the butter is fully melted. After the butter has completely melted, add the breadcrumbs and thoroughly mix them together.
Place an equal amount of the breadcrumb and garlic butter mixture on top of each fillet. Then squeeze some lemon juice on the top.
You’re now ready to put your fish in your pre-heated oven. Place the baking tray on the middle rack and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish has an opaque white appearance and the meat is firm.
Remove from oven, plate alongside your favorite sides, from roasted asparagus to mashed potatoes, or a simple salad of mixed greens and root vegetables to saffron risotto. Whatever tickles your fancy! Now, with your meal looking beautiful on the plate, the only thing left to do is to call the troops to the table and dig in!
For more information on the “Guiding Flow” fishing show, visit guidingflowtv.com. For more information on Captains for Clean Water, visit captainsforcleanwater.com. You can also follow Capt. Benny Blanco on Instagram and Facebook.