How to Cook Sheepshead Fish? Step-By-Step

how to cook sheepshead fish

Our recipe for grilled sheepshead produces a flaky, sweet fish that you will enjoy serving to your family and friends. Using a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet, you can prepare this delectable, crispy Grilled Sheepshead with garlic butter in less than 10 minutes.

Do you wish to discover a quick, simple, easy, and delectable method for preparing sheepshead? Everything you need to know about the flavor of sheepshead, as well as how to cook, clean, and even catch it, will be covered in this concise guide.

Let’s dive in!

Ingredient and Tools

  • Sheepshead – Fish that is flaky, tender, and has a sweet flavor that is reminiscent of shellfish.
  • Olive Oil – prevents the sheepshead fish from sticking while grilling.
  • Salt and Pepper – To taste.
  • Garlic Butter – Lemon wedges, dried parsley, butter, garlic, and butter are the main ingredients in this compound butter. The grilled sheepshead elevates it to the top. For best results, use freshly minced garlic.
  • Cast Iron Skillet. Cast iron cookware is fantastic to use on the grill because it heats up so beautifully and produces a perfect sear. It enables you to cook foods that would otherwise fall apart or stick to the grill grates, like this fish.

How to Cook Sheepshead Fish?

You are now prepared to begin cooking because the bloodline has been eliminated.

  • Step 1. Heat up the grill to 350-400 degrees
  • Step 2. Dry the filets
  • Step 3. Cover them with olive oil in the pan
  • Step 4. Season the upside of the filets
  • Step 5. Put the filets on the grill seasoned side down and season the other side
  • Step 6. Flip them after 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are
  • Step 7. Eat them after you take them off the grill! When a butter knife slides through them easily, you’ll know they’re finished.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

The fish’s sides will start to turn white and separate from the cast iron as this happens. You can determine when to flip it by doing so. The fish should be golden brown on both sides, with a delicious crispy exterior produced by the hot cast iron, so be careful not to flip it too soon.

Don’t forget to heat up the cast iron skillet on the grill while it is being preheated. It crisps up so beautifully because of this.

Whenever it rains, prepare sheepshead on the stove. Try our stovetop version of the sheepshead fish recipe if you have to bring it inside due to rain or other weather-related issues. Grilling sheepshead is a fantastic way to start the summer. Cast iron should be heated in the oven to 500 degrees using a similar procedure.

Put it on the burner once it has reached the desired temperature and removed it. Pour olive oil into the cast iron and heat the stove to a medium-high temperature.

Similar to grilling, place the sheepshead in the hot cast iron and cook for two to three minutes. Cooking for 1-3 minutes after flipping. Lastly, add the garlic butter.

Here is a video of cooking Sheepshead fish:

How to Clean Sheepshead?

Although the sheepshead is one of the most delicious dishes you can serve, cleaning it can be difficult for most people.

Some anglers choose to toss the fish back into the water due to the difficult task of filleting it due to the numerous spikes on the fish’s back and the hard ribs, which are difficult to cut even with the best filleting knife. But those are the people who have never tried the strange-looking fish.

A few steps are involved in filleting the sheepshead. You must first remove the armor’s scale-like covering from its thick skin. Then, starting at the junction of the head, cut vertically downward through to the backbone while holding the knife at an angle.

The other cut should be made above the lateral line, going down to the anus after returning along the line. Using the vertical cut as a starting point, turn the fish so that its back is facing you and begin cutting just behind the backbone.

The spine and ribcage should be cut through with the knife. The cut flesh at the tail should be left in place.

Cut any flesh that is still adhered to the fish’s skeleton next. Cut the fillet free from the tail after separating it.

On the opposite side of the fish, repeat the procedure, but this time remove the tail. Cut all points of attachment between the fillet and the skeleton on the opposite side of the fish, beginning at the tail.

Put the fillets on the cleaning table with the skin facing up. When cutting the flesh off the skin, keep the skin’s red coloring attached to the fillet while cutting from the tail end.

A small piece of flesh along the lateral line is cut out to reveal the pin bone. The remaining fillets receive a similar treatment.

Where to Find Sheepshead?

You must be aware of where to look if you intend to go sheepshead fishing. The convict fish earned its moniker from both its penchant for robbing bait from other fish and the dark bands that run vertically down its body.

It can be found in the waters off the US East Coast, particularly in North Carolina and Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic.

Sheepsheads love scraping food particles off of surfaces like jetties, piers, pilings, old bridge pillars, and rocks, so these are the best places to look for them. They are typically discovered ten feet or more below the surface.

Sheepshead gathers in large groups to prepare for spawning from December to April, with March and April seeing the greatest concentrations. But along the Gulf Coast, these fish species can be found all year long.

Every year, sheepshead moves from estuaries to offshore areas to spawn. This fish species is typically found in habitats where tiny invertebrates flourish and provide them with a great source of food.

They enjoy congregating near the roots of mangrove trees, and oyster reefs, and building objects like seawalls, piers, docks, and pilings. Other times, you can find them in sand flats and seagrass beds in shallow waters.

how to cook sheepshead fish

How to Catch Sheepshead?

For anglers, catching sheepshead can be challenging, especially if you are not accustomed to these aggressive fish. Most of the baits used to catch other species are ineffective at luring them because of the morphological characteristics of their mouth. A few crustaceans, like oysters, crabs, and barnacles, have small mouths with teeth that resemble those of humans that are designed for breaking their shells.

It takes a tiny circle hook that can fit in their mouths and the bait to catch these odd-looking but delectable fish. The sheepshead is a gentle species that can snag the bait and vanish unnoticed, unlike other aggressive species that are aggressive when capturing the prey.

If you want to catch this fish, you should slowly pull the rod up while lifting it gently to check for resistance.

Shrimp, clams, and squid are among the baits used to catch sheepshead, but most anglers prefer to use fiddler crabs. The hook must be placed correctly; otherwise, the bait will be sucked in, crushed, and spit out before you realize it.

Although patience is needed to make sure the hook is placed correctly, this is a real convict when it comes to bait theft. Make sure the hook is sharp enough to cut through the sheepshead’s body and the hard surface of the mouth.

If artificial baits are more your style, get ready to be let down because using sheepshead won’t be fun.

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Sheepshead! 

Fish like sheepshead has a lot of good fat in it. It cooks up moist and tender as a result. All you need is a light seasoning and ten minutes on the grill. You’ll feel spoiled because your fish will be ready so quickly.

I hope you get a chance to try this method of cooking sheepshead soon because it is absolutely delicious. Do you have any queries about how to grill sheepshead? Please share in the comments section.


How Long to Grill Sheepshead Fish?

It will take you seven to ten minutes to finish cooking everything. After two or three minutes, you should flip the fish.

How to Grill Sheepshead Fish?

Get your cast iron grilling at a temperature of 500°F. Oil the skillet and reduce the grill’s temperature to 425°F. The fish should be cooked for two to three minutes on each side before flipping it once more back to the first side to finish cooking it. It should be flaky and white, as desired. Garlic butter can be used to finish it.

Does Sheepshead Fish Taste Good?

It’s safe to say that you’ll savor the moist, flaky fish’s rich, sweet, and shellfish-inspired flavor. There is a reason why eating sheepshead fish has been likened to enjoying lobster. It’s that good.

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