Ladyfish? Preparation and eating experiment.

It’s one of those fish that are a blast to catch, but you always hear that they are inedible. No one you ever talk to has ever actually tried it, but everyone says so. I have heard that they are mushy, strong tasting, oily and full of bones. About all they get used for is chopped up for chum or used as bait for larger fish.

Well, yesterday I caught one of these and couldn’t release it because i hooked it in the gills. It was not going to live.

So I figured that I would see for myself if this thing was edible or not. In the cooler it went, packed in ice.

Once home, I flopped it on the counter.

It weighed about 2 pounds and was 24″ long.
It filleted and skinned pretty easily. Nice long fillets very similar looking to mackerel. I could see that there was an extra row of tiny bones above and in addition to the ones you usually find down the center line. I have seen this in herring before. I took a small cut and tried it plain and fried in a bit of oil. Definitely not mushy, bit fine grained for sure. Tasted a whole lot like fresh mackerel to me.
All in all they were fairly nice looking fillets. A little bit fragile (mushy?) but not any worse than mackerel. I chopped them into 3″ chunks and put them in my smoker with no added seasoning or marinade.
Hot smoked for 2 hours with some applewood chips.
Now to eliminate any possibility of tiny bones, packed into a couple 1/2 pint canning jars with a bit of water to cover and a pinch of salt.
Lids on and into the pressure cooker with a few inches of water.
Pressure cooked for about an hour.
Once cooled, opened one jar and drained it.
Nice taste. Reminiscent of smoked mackerel. Flaked it with a fork, A little more crumbly than canned tuna, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it mushy. No sign of any bones. Pressure cooking pretty much eliminates them.
Added mayo, sour cream, chopped onion, sweet relish, dill and black pepper.
Mixed it all up and had it for lunch on toasted bagels.

All in all not too bad. Of course I would probably rather do this with tuna or mackerel. But I can first hand attest that ladyfish is definitely not inedible! Due to the large number of small bones, canning it is probably the only sensible way of preparing it. Cooked fresh it has a mild and fairly pleasant taste, but again, the bones would be a problem.

If you are fishing to eat and this is all you caught, canning it like I did above puts a good substitute for canned tuna in the cupboard for your family.

I have a feeling that you could probably do the same with tarpon. Maybe some day I’ll try that too!

7 thoughts on “Ladyfish? Preparation and eating experiment.

  1. When you take a photo of the fish, if you can show it with a ruler or something to show it’s size would be great. Couldn’t tell how large those fillets are.


  2. Damn I caught a huge (31″) Lady fish while on vacation at Fort Morgan, AL this summer but some know it all told me you can’t eat them, so I let it go.


  3. I had this beautiful fish in The Gambia… they had wrapped it loosely in foil with butter and fresh thyme and cooked it on a bbq…. wish I could find this in U.K….. fantastic flavour


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