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How do I cook Trigger fish, and what does it taste like?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
How do I cook Trigger fish, and what does it taste like?
post #2 of 18
I ate it the first time this past summer, Abe, when we caught them in the Outer Banks. A real bear to clean, because the skin is literally leather tough.

I found it to be a firm, white-fleshed fish, a really clean, sweet flavor. Having never made it before, I didn't want to fool around, so just pan-fried it in a little butter.

Based on that, I'd say you could use it any way you'd cook sea bass, cod, or other white-fleshed fish.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 18

trigger fish

while I've never made it myself (boy I would like to find a market here in Charlotte that sells it though), I have eaten it twice. The first time was at McCormick & Scmick's. It was grilled and topped with a lobster sauce.

I asked the waitress what it was, bc I had never seen it on the menu before. And before she could spit it out, i said "a mild white fish...blah blah blah". She just smiled! and then told me it had a sort of a sweet after taste. That spurred my interest, so I ordered it...and lo and behold, it really did. It was a very mild fish and had a very subtle sweetness to it. I tried it with the lobster sauce, and without to see if maybe it was the sweetness of the lobster that made the difference.

verdict: it was sweet on its own!


PS- where can i buy some??!!
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hull's Seafood in Daytona Beach
post #5 of 18
Have never eaten it. It used to be strickly an aquarium fish for collectors growing up to 22 inches. Real nice colors , the blue one is very pretty. For tropical fish owners they run about $15.00 each retail up to 10 inches. They are in the Balistidae family usually found around shallow reefs and lagoons. From what I have seen the skin is like thick leather. I would assume you cook it like any other white fleshed bottom fish. My fish man does not stock them, but on special order can get them.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #6 of 18
It's actually not difficult to prepare. Once you have trimmed off the fins (not the tail, but the top, bottom, and side fins), cut a line between the back of the jaw and a little bit in front of the eye, just through the skin. Then peel off the skin from front to back: it should come off fairly easily in one piece, and not tear up the flesh behind it. From there you can bone out the fish quite easily, or grill, steam, broil, or pan-fry with the bones in.

It's quite mild, with a distinctly sweet flavor. I think the best thing is to fillet it, salt lightly, and pan-fry in butter, no bread crumbs. Serve with lemon.

The Japanese call this kawahagi (皮剥), and you might find some recipes under that name.
post #7 of 18
Thanks, Chris. I knew there had to be a simpler way, or else it would never have become a commercial fish. And all the celebrity chef's have been touting it.

I tried fileting it the standard way. There is a zipper line along the top that's fairly easy to slice through. But the only way I could make the behind-the-gils cut was to come up from underneath. No way I could saw through that skin from the outside.

I image an electric knife would have done the job.

After eating my first one I sort of regret all the ones we've thrown back through the years, cuz "nobody" eats those things.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 18
KY, when I live in the Carib we used to buy them from the "Frenchies" every day for lunch. Leave the skin on, gut them, and do them en papioutte style. My favorite was with sliced red onion, parsley or cilantro, green onion, garlic and honey. Once it was cooked the skin peeled off like a trout. Sweet, firm and delicious.

I miss the days of "ole wife" (which is what they call it in the BVI), because it is tough on the outside but sweet in the middle just like your ole wife.....
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Does the trigger fish have scales?
post #10 of 18
I doubt it. I haven't found that they're much use for anything but cleanly slicing soft sandwich bread.

To cut, put the knife flat against the fish, with the edge toward the mouth, point near the jaw. You can then puncture the skin by moving toward the mouth. Keep the knife essentially flat, and slide the point along under the skin; rotating the knife so the edge is toward the skin and away from the flesh may help, but it depends on the shape of your knife.

In essence, you need to puncture the skin with the point, and then cut from the underside, not down through the leathery skin surface. From there you can just peel the thing.
post #11 of 18
I think that particular fish is pretty good just about anyway you
cook it....fried....pan sauteed.....I like em' whole....my wife likes
Jack fish pan roasted whole...I can't stand em' because of the blood
line...but, trigger fish are pretty good...as everyone has said, the skin
will just peel right off...kinda like pompano skin.....trigger fish is extremely
affordable as well.....seems like the last bag of fresh triggerfish filets I purchased was around 4 or 5 bucks a pound. Thank God Mullets still free!
post #12 of 18
>In essence, you need to puncture the skin with the point, and then cut from the underside, not down through the leathery skin surface. From there you can just peel the thing. <

Essentially that's what I did, Chris. Except instead of puncturing the skin I made my dorsal cut (that's the easy one), then stuck the point in below the skin just behind the gills.

Instead of skinning first I just used my usual method. When fileting, after making the dorsal and gill cuts, I turn the knife and cut off the filet, cutting through the ribs and following the backbone. But I do not cut through the skin at the tail. Instead, I use that as a hinge to flip the fish over. Then it's a simple matter of cutting the filet off, by running the filet knife along the inside of the skin. The weight of the fish's body holds everything in place.

Final step, depending on species, is to cut away the rib cage and pull any pin bones.

You can find more details, and some of the other ways I prep fresh fish, here: Cleaning Fish. Preparing your catch.

As to electric knives, I don't even know from firsthand experience if they're good for slicing bread. I'm not comfortable with them, so don't use 'em. But an awful lot of fishermen and guides say they're the greatest thing since sex for fileting fish.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 18

DReed3,

 

I was at Dierberg's Market today and they have Trigger fish (wild caught) in the fresh fish market. I think they are in Charlotte as well if you are still in that area.

 

 

post #14 of 18

If you still live in the Charlotte market... I am the Executive Chef at McCormick and Schmicks in South Park. I have it on my menu right now and most likely will run it throughout the week.. Fell free to call the restaurant at 704-442-5522

post #15 of 18

I bought some Trigger fish yesterday at Reid's Market on Selwyn. Am cooking it tonight.  Yum.

post #16 of 18

I am a butcher trainee at Reids Fine Foods in Charlotte on corner of Selwyn and Colony Rds. and we have triggerfish often, including today.  It is not cheap, I think $26/lb.  But is fresh, comes from LaVechio seafood.  Call us to see... Dave

post #17 of 18

I just picked some up at Deep Sea Seafood in Matthews, NC (for way less than $26 a pound)  If they are out, just ask Larry to order more.

post #18 of 18

You guys neglected one the best part of the triggerfish.  The "cheek meat" is the filet of the entire fish.  There is a good sized amount of meat in the head and it is all delicious.  Sweeter and more tender than the rest of the already delicious fish..  I skin the fish, starting by cutting around the lips, the eyes and the pectoral fin as well as making a line along the top and bottom with a razor knife.  The entire skin peels off.  I then gut and clean the fish (easier to peel the entire fish than after gutting.)  I grilled one last night after rubbing it down with garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary.  

 

Note.  It doesn't suck to have a friend who calls me when the boats unload so that I can have my pick of the fish.  Yesterday's purchases were triggerfish, b liners and black sea bass.   I passed on the amberjacks.

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