Exotic Seafood Survey #16: Wahoo

Long and narrow, the wahoo is a big fish. It grows to a hundred pounds at times, although it’s more usually twenty to fifty. The fish live in the blue-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico, grow quickly, and are in fairly large supply. The name, I hear, comes from what you say if you catch one; it’s supposed to be great sport to pull one in. It shows up only sporadically on menus, because the fish are unschooled loners.

Wahoo is a member of the tuna and mackerel family. It’s a streamlined speed demon, the better to function as a predator on other fish. Like tuna, it’s more often cut into steaks than into fillets. Also like tuna, it doesn’t stand to be overcooked. Do that, and it becomes dry and a bit tough. But like mackerel, it contains a good bit of fat, and has a bigger than average flavor. Very good eating.

The most common method of preparation for wahoo is grilling. However, it’s also good in moist preparations, like bouillabaisse or courtbouillon. I once served wahoo with a light, tomato-and-holy-trinity sauce with more lemon and black pepper than I was used to finding, plus a few shrimp. It was a spectacular dish.

We used to see more wahoo lately than we have in the past few years. However, it’s been the fish of the day here and there lately, so maybe it’s making a comeback. It’s underrated at the table, and I wish more chefs would use it.

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