Cooking the Jack Crevalle

Cooking Jack CrevalleWhile fishing with Puerto Vallarta Fishing Tours there is a great chance, you’ll hook a Jack Crevalle. What an amazing fish to fight and bring onboard. I have had the opportunity to catch this powerful, predatory fish numerous times. The Jack Crevalle has never disappointed giving me a workout!

Most fishermen that have had the experience to catch one will tell you that, pound for pound, the Jack Crevalle is one of the strongest swimmers and hardest fighting fish in the sea, but only a small amount of them will tell you that they are worth eating. 

These fish are fun to hook and are not great to eat…unless you have the right recipe. So let me share a recipe that I have found which will deliver your catch to your table for a delicious meal:

Jack Crevalle Fish Cakes

1 kilo Jack Crevalle filets (fresh right from your day fishing!)
2 tablespoons of Olive, Avocado, or Vegetable oil
2 medium sized white or Red potatoes or 1 larger russet potato
1 tablespoon butter
5 cloves garlic
2 slices of cheese  (you can also other cheeses; 2 tablespoons of Philadelphia, some parmesan, etc)
1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
​salt and pepper

****additional spices & fillers (see below)
breadcrumbs or a substitute (crushed corn flakes would work too)
2 cups Vegetable cooking oil for frying the Jack Crevalle Fish Cakes

****Spices & Fillers Section****
In this recipe, for my fillers and spices I used three types of finely chopped vegetables: onion, banana peppers, and capers. But the key is to experiment with flavors you enjoy. I always use finely chopped onion in every recipe…they add great flavor and a slight crunch. Here are some more ideas.
• finely chopped onion, chopped spicy peppers, chopped and strained capers
• finely chopped onion, and a blend of curry, turmeric, and chili pepper
• finely chopped onion and fresh grated ginger
• finely chopped onion with chopped ham or broken up crunchy, cooked bacon
• finely chopped onion with fine herbs, Italian herbs, with a pinch of marjoram and tarragon
• finely chopped onion with smoked salt and some BBQ rub seasoning

Note: Avoid fillers such as fresh tomato that will add too much moisture to the fish cake mix. I have used cilantro, which I had dried off with a paper towel after washing, but it is important to cook all of the fish cake mix (when you use fresh veggies) as the extra moisture will make leftover fish cake mix a soggy, muddy mess that is hard to form into cakes the following day. Left over cooked fish cakes are easy to warm up in an oven or toaster oven and eat the following day, although they will lose some of their fried crunchy outer crust.

I hope you get the point. Have fun and experiment. Find out what you family or friends like best. It is hard to go wrong. You can change things up and literally eat more than one flavor of Jack Crevalle fish cake in a single sitting or have fish cakes two nights in a row but with completely different flavor profiles.

Step #1:
Wash your large russet or two medium white/red potatoes and using a fork, poke holes all over the potato. Then place the potatoes on a small microwave safe plate and place into the microwave. Set the microwave to 7 or 8 minutes. You will want to cook the potato so it can easily be mashed. If your microwave has automatic settings for this, feel free to use it.

Step #2:
While the potatoes are in the microwave cooking, chop the Jack Crevalle filets into chunks and cook them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil (Olive, Avocado or Vegetable). You want them to cook thoroughly and release most of the moisture and juices trapped inside. Smaller chunks cook the quickest and will also release the juices faster.
Once the Jack Crevalle filet chunks are completely cooked and most of the juices are released, take the fish off of the burner. Then using a spatula or large serving spoon with holes in it, move the hot cooked fish carefully to a bowl and place the bowl in the refrigerator or the freezer to cool. Try to leave as much of the fish juices in the frying pan as possible.
(We are not trying to freeze the fish, we merely want to cool it off to the point we can handle it with our bare hands)

Step #3:
With the Jack Crevalle chunks now cooling, pull the cooked potatoes from the microwave and slice them open. Then put 1 tablespoon of butter on top of each potato. Place the potatoes in the refrigerator or the freezer to cool them as well.

Step #4:
After about 10-15 minutes the potatoes should be slightly warm. Pull them from the refrigerator. Now, using either a food processor or a hand blender (I use a hand blender and an empty Yogurt 1 kg / 1 Quart container) you will blend the potatoes with the 2 tablespoons of butter, which will be melted or mostly melted into them, with the cheese slices, garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 egg. You will also want to add any other spices you want in the spice cakes at this stage and blend thoroughly. Note: Use slightly more salt and pepper than this mix needs, as we will still add fillers and the fish to the mix in Step 6.

After blending, if the mixture is super runny, do not add another egg. If the mixture is extremely thick and quite possibly hard to mix, then adding the second egg is fine/needed. Blend thoroughly as well.

If you are unsure whether another egg is needed, it is ok to wait until Step 6 to decide whether to add the second egg or not, although the mixing process will be slightly more difficult.

Below is a picture of the two cheese I used with this recipe, 1 slice of each.
(Notice the cheeses aren’t anything special. They only provide some additional flavor and help to glue the mixture together.)

Also as mentioned above in the ingredients section, sometimes I use other cheeses. This is also something that can be experimented with and it is hard to go wrong, although I would probably steer clear of blue cheeses or other extremely pungent varieties….the cheese will need to complement fish after all.

After finished blending, move the mixture to a large mixing bowl using a silicon spatula.

Step #5:
Make sure all your fillers are chopped and ready for mixing. In this recipe I used onion, spicy banana peppers, and capers. (note: after chopping the capers I squeezed them over the sink to force as much moisture out of them as possible)

Step #6:
Pull the cooked but cooled chucks of Jack Crevalle filets from the refrigerator/freezer. Now, handful by handful, squeeze the extra juices from the meat. Get as much moisture out as possible!

Then crumble the meat into a bowl. You are wanting to break the fish into little chunks that will be scattered through the fish cakes, so not extremely small, but not too thick either. Something along the lines of chunky canned tuna is a good way to go.
Next, add the fish and chopped fillers to the mixing bowl; mix and smash the ingredients together. If the mixture is too thick to get it to mix evenly, you can add the additional egg (if you only used 1 egg in step #4.) at this point or even just an egg white. Note: You don’t want the mixture too runny either or the cakes that will not form easily and it will be a juggling act to get them in the frying pan.

Step #7:
Grab your favorite brand of breadcrumbs, crushed corn flakes, or in Mexico, a bag of empanizado crujente! Pour your breadcrumb mix into a bowl.

Heat up cooking oil (1 cm or 1/2 inch) in a frying pan and set to a medium heat (note: use vegetable oil…not olive, coconut, or avocado oils as they burn at the higher deep-frying temperatures) and prepare to fry your fish cakes. If you have a deep fat fryer you can use it instead if you want.

Put about 4-6 heaping tablespoons of the fish cake mix into your hand and pat, it into a nice 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick patty. The patty should be 2-3 inches across (4-6cm).

Place them in the oil and fry until a golden crispy brown then flip them carefully over and fry the other side. The second side should be a bit quicker to reach a nice dark golden brown, so don’t overcook them. Be careful, the oil may get hotter as you go, so turn the heat down if needed. When the oil is low, add more to avoid burning the fish cakes.
Place the finished Jack Crevalle Fish Cakes on a plate covered with 2 layers of paper towels to cool down. The paper towels will absorb excess cooking oil.

Once cool, serve. Typically, if you seasoned the fish cake mix enough, you will not need any dipping sauces, as the fish cakes will be so tasty you won’t need anything else!

Jack Carevell

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