We’ve been hearing a lot about how much fun it is to catch cobia – the large striped saltwater gamefish that is sometimes mistaken as a shark. They’re voracious feeders and can be caught with a variety of different lures. But once you’ve caught one, can you eat cobia? And what does cobia taste like? We’re here to answer these questions and more!
Cobia are often overlooked as a saltwater sports fish, and even more so as an option to eat after fishing.
But this shouldn’t be the case. After the preparations we’ve done ourselves and what we’ve heard in our fishing community, we know that you can make a great meal out of the next cobia you catch.
In this article, we’ll go over what cobia tastes like, how to properly clean cobia, and how to cook cobia. We’ll even include some of our favorite recipes that we’ve sourced from our cobia fishing friends. Let’s dive in!
What are Cobia?
Since cobia aren’t a well-known fish we thought it made sense to start with a quick overview of what they are. Cobia (also called black kingfish) are a saltwater sport fish that grow up to 6 feet long and over 150 lbs.
They have a broad flat head and are dark gray or brown in color with a white belly. They have two dark stripes on their sides that become more predominant during their spawning season.
Cobia are sometimes mistaken for sharks from a distance due to their large pectoral fin. This happens frequently during their mating season, as cobia like to school near the surface and poke their fin out of the water while mating.
Cobia are primarily scavengers. They can often be found following larger fish like sharks or manta rays waiting to pick on the scraps they leave behind after a meal.
They also enjoy eating baitfish, crabs, and other small crustaceans that are easy for them to catch. Cobia are notorious for being curious fish. They’ll often swim right up to your boat to check out what’s going on or if there’s something to eat.
Anglers catch cobia using artificial lures that imitate prey like eels, shrimp, or small fish. Cobia are often found around man made structure like bridge pylons, and is a common place where angers will go to catch them.
Cobia can put up a serious fight, so if you are going to fish them be sure you have the proper fishing gear required to catch them, and if you don’t know where to find them, a local charter guide will be your best bet for success.
Author Note: Cobia live mostly in warmer climates like off the coast of Florida. They’re usually a solitary fish but can be found in small groups during their spawning season. You can usually find them near reefs, seagrass, large rocks, or other structures in the water. We recommend using a boat or getting an affordable kayak to find them.
Can You Eat Cobia?
The easy answer is yes, you can eat cobia – and it tastes great! The only factors you should consider when eating cobia are shared with other large pelagic fish.
Authors Note: Cobia can be have high mercury levels, so be sure to check on the local health recommendations on consumption, these can typically be found on the states’ department of natural resources website or fishing regulations booklet.
Cobia should be cleaned/put on ice as soon as possible after catching them to limit bacteria growth. If you’re aware of those issues, then you can and should eat cobia!
What Does Cobia Fish Taste Like?
In a nutshell, cobia fish tastes great. It has a fresh, buttery flavor with a desirable firmness and low amount of fat. It has a very mild fish flavor, which gives it a lot of versatility in preparations.
From fresh cobia sashimi to deep-fried cobia fish sticks, cobia tastes great in almost every preparation we’ve tried. Many of our friends have described it tasting similar to Ling Cod or other mild saltwater white fish.
Beyond just taste, cobia also has many health benefits from its low oil and high protein meat. Cobia are rich in potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. These three minerals have been linked to mental health and the reduction of heart disease by the American Heart Association.
It also is packed full of Omega-3 fats.
What is Cobia Similar to?
Cobia tastes similar to other species like swordfish, mahi-mahi, and striped bass. If you are familiar with how these fish taste, cobia isn’t far off in terms of flavor.
All of these fish feature a mild flavor and similar texture, and are consist of firm white meat. Cobia can also make a great substitute if you want to cook a recipe that includes the fish we just listed, or vice-versa.
How to Clean Cobia
Now that we’ve convinced you that you can eat cobia and it tastes great, let’s go over how to properly clean cobia.
This is a rough guide on how to clean typical round fish and is a great place to start if you’ve never cleaned a cobia before.
- The first step in cleaning a large fish like cobia is to make sure you have a very sharp knife. The bigger bones and thick flesh will require a sharper knife than is needed for a smaller fish!
- Begin by cutting down the cobia’s belly starting from the anal fins up to the pelvic fins and the beginning of the collar.
- Next, reach up inside the cobia and pull out the innards. You may need to use shears to cut them loose.
- Wash away the blood and extra gut from your workstation then cut through the collar and remove the head. You can either dispose of this or use it for shark bait.
- Next, it’s time to cut out your fillets. Make a cut across the end of the tail on both sides. Then connect the cut your already made on the belly to the end of the tail.
- Make a cut from the top of the backbone starting at the collar and going all the way down to the tail. Move your blade all the way down the spine while cutting through the skeletal bones.
- You can then use your shears or knife to cut away the fillet from the collar.
- The last step is to remove as many of the pin bones as you can with a pair of needle-nose pliers. This step can be time-consuming but will give you bone-free cobia steaks!
How to Cook Cobia
Now that you’ve cleaned your cobia it’s time to cook it. Here are two of our favorite recipes for cobia!
Our favorite cobia recipe for the grill. It’s easy to prepare and the finished product tastes great. It also works great fish tacos as well!
- 4 fresh cobia fillets
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Mix all of the dry and wet ingredients in a large plastic bag, then place the cobia fillets in the bag and ensure they are coated. Let the fillets sit for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
- Heat your grill on high and grill for 6 or 7 minutes on each side. Look for the cobia fillets to be opaque and flaky in texture.
- Remove from the grill and serve with your favorite salsa.
Macadamia Butter Cobia
If you don’t want to grill your cobia, pan searing it with the following recipe is also a great choice. It has even fewer ingredients but is a decadently delicious option after a long day of cobia fishing. This recipe is also a great choice for Spanish mackerel.
- 4 fresh cobia fillets
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 lemon halves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Add the olive oil to a pan and heat until oil is close to the smoking point.
- Place the cobia fillets in the pan and sear each side for 5 minutes.
- With 1 minute left of the second side, place your butter and the macadamia nuts in the pan. Use a spoon to baste the fillets with the melted butter and macadamia nuts.
- Remove the fillets from the pans and drizzle several spoonfuls of butter and macadamia nuts on the top. Squeeze some lemon on top and enjoy!
Cobia aren’t usually at the top of the list of species to target while fishing, but maybe after reading this article you’ll target them more. You can definitely eat cobia, and they taste great if prepared effectively.
We hope you found this article informative and now know what to do with the next cobia you catch. If your a fan of fish with firm white flaky meat, than you will certainly be a fan of cobia.
Have your own cobia recipe that tastes great? Let us know about it in the comments below!