This recipe is more about the actual fish than the preparation. The coconut and macadamia nut topping could be served over basically any type of fish: striped bass, salmon, largemouth bass, trout, and many more. Basically, find a fish that you like to grill and this topping will up your dinner game.
The fish used in this particular preparation is what makes the recipe unique to many chefs and home cooks. The sheepshead fish is a saltwater fish that scours the rocky shorelines of North and South America in search of shrimp, mollusks, barnacles, crustaceans, and small fish. They also feast on the occasional ocean plant as well.
The sheepshead resembles an ocean snapper or bass, though it is technically neither, with its narrow, diamond-shaped body, spiny small dorsal fin, and somewhat flat appearance. They are commonly referred to as ‘convict fish’ because of the black bar stripes running vertically along their body.
‘Convict fish’ seems like a clever name for this fish, as its striped jumpsuit appearance is reminiscent of any jail scene on the silver screen—until the fish opens its mouth. This fish has a set of chompers, and not any set of teeth but a human-looking set complete with incisors and molars. The teeth are used for cracking the shells of prey, although there are plenty of other fish, such as parrot fish, that crack shells and instead have beaks or teeth resembling beaver or other small rodents.
If you haven’t had a chance to catch a sheepshead, I suggest you head to the Gulf of Mexico and test your luck at snagging one. They are a surreal experience to pull out of the water and view, but they also are incredibly delicious.
Sheepshead with wild rice
- 1 sheepshead fish, filleted with skin left on (other fish will also work with this recipe)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 pint groundberries (also known as ground cherries, gooseberries, and golden berries)
- 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
- 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- Salt and pepper
- Wild rice, prepared to instructions on box
1. Preheat the grill to high heat.
2. Season sheepshead fillets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3. With the skin on, place fish directly on grill, skin side down, and grill for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is white and firm. You can test the fish to see if it is done by pressing a butterknife into the meat—it should easily slide through the meat without much resistance.
4. For the topping, in a medium size bowl mix together the shredded coconut, chopped groundberries, and macadamia nuts.
5. Add coconut milk slowly until the consistency holds together but is not too runny.
6. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and coriander.
7. Serve fish over a bed of wild rice and top with the groundberry macadamia nut topping.
Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.