Around the Island

Off the Fork: Roasted cobia: New fish, new potatoes

Because of where I live, I’m privileged to eat fresh wild-caught seafood, so when a new kind of fish swims into our waters, it gets my attention. Until recently cobia was a rare visitor to the bays of Long Island.

Commonly found in temperate and tropical waters, cobia is a meaty, flaky fish that’s been described as having the texture of swordfish with the taste of striped bass. Flakier than swordfish, it still holds up well to grilling and roasting.

Like swordfish, cobia has a thick skin that the dainty might not eat, but that prevents the fish from drying out as it cooks.

In August 2018, the Long Island fishing report On the Water reported, “With this warm water they have heard of two cobia caught this week,” and in June of 2019, “A cobia was caught deep in Massapequa this week. It went about 15 pounds. This is not a common visitor to our waters.”

Charlie Manwaring at Southold Fish Market in Southold said he’s gotten ten cobias from local fishermen this year, including one that weighed 60 pounds.  Alice’s in Greenport (and at the Haven’s market on Saturdays) had cobia for the past two weeks, selling fillets recently from a fish that must have been at least 30 pounds.

Sawyer Clark, pictured below with his nephew Lucas, says this cobia is the first he’s caught this year.

Maybe it’s the increasing water temperatures that sent the lobsters north, and contributed to the demise of last year’s adult bay scallops, and maybe it’s a random three-year fluctuation, but at the rate things are going, I decided to figure out how best to cook it. Here’s where I started.

Roasted cobia on a peppery bed of new potatoes

(Serves four)

1 and ¼ lb. cobia fillet with the
skin on, cut into four thick pieces

1 and ½-lb unpeeled red potatoes, sliced thin.

2 tablespoons, and 4 teaspoons
of olive oil

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon dried ground chipotle or adobe pepper

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

½ teaspoon salt for the potatoes and another pinch for the fish.

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut the unpeeled red potatoes into1/4-inch slices using a mandoline or food processor. The slices should be floppy, but not translucent. Mix the potatoes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the spices until the oil coats the potatoes.

3. Spread one teaspoon of olive oil in a lasagna-style pan, or a 12-inch iron skillet, and arrange the potatoes over the bottom in an even layer. Dribble another teaspoon of olive oil over the potatoes.

4. Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the thin slices are starting to brown.

5. While the potatoes are cooking, put the cobia fillets into the same oily, spicy bowl you used to coat the potatoes. Add another teaspoon of olive oil to coat the cobia fillets, especially the skin.

6. Arrange the cobia fillets, skin side up on top of the hot potatoes, and dribble another teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt over the fillets.

7. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily with a fork, and the potatoes are well browned and crispy on the edges.