Cobia are a popular saltwater game fishing target and are renowned for their fight.
But how do they stack up as a table fish? Very well in fact. They taste better than many more well known fish.
We’ve summarized the eating qualities of cobia below, just before a brief bit about this species.
Quick summary: Yes, cobia are good to eat and they are a safe and healthy fish to consume. They have a mild sweet slightly buttery flavor and are good to eat fried, grilled or raw. Handled properly, cobia is a versatile eating fish that can be cooked in many different ways.
What are Cobia and Where Are They Found?
Cobia are a dark brown, large, solitary ocean-going fish that reach up 75 inches in length and more than 170lbs in weight.
They are a fish that isn’t afraid to get up close to boats and can often be found close to the water’s surface. They are sometimes mistaken for sharks thanks to the way their large pectoral fins come out horizontally.
They prey on crabs and crustaceans and this fish is sometimes known as the crabeater, black salmon or lemonfish in the US. They are also sometimes called black kingfish.
Cobia are known for following manta rays and whale sharks and feeding off crustaceans and other prey items that the ray stirs up.
Cobia are found in tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean and also in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia and off the Pacific coast of Japan.
In the US, there are two main populations – an Atlantic population in waters off Georgia to the north and a Gulf of Mexico population extending through to the east coast of Florida..
Can You Eat Cobia?
Yes, cobia are a good eating fish. They have a firm texture and an excellent flavour. It is low in fat and has a buttery flavour and is not high in mercury like some other large saltwater fish species.
It is not a common fish in restaurants and fish shops. The commercial wild catch rate is low as cobia are a solitary pelagic fish and cobia aquaculture (raising the fish in fish farms) is limited.
But you can find it on some restaurant menus and of course you can catch cobia yourself if you are a boat or kayak angler. As well as being one of the best tasting fish, they are really powerful swimmers and offer great sport. Sometimes they can be caught from piers and off the rocks and bridges.
Cobia feature in an episode of the US version of Iron Chef with Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali preparing a series of cobia dishes.
What Does Cobia Fish Taste Like?
Describing fish taste can always be a bit subjective, but from our point of view cobia has a sweet flavour with notes of butter.
It has a mild taste in contrast to swordfish, mahi mahi or other large pelagic fish.
The firmness of its flesh makes it easy to cook in a number of ways.
How to Cook Cobia Fish
It is often served in the form of grilled or poached fillets with lemon juice and tartar sauce or other condiments.
The flesh has enough oil for it to be grilled on a BBQ or outdoor grill or in a hot frying pan with some olive oil and not dry out.
Served with a salsa or sauce of some sort involving lemon, parsely, olive oil, salt and capers it can be very tasty.
One of the keys to cooking cobia (as with most fish) is to not let it dry out. Fillets really only need three minutes or so a side if grilling.
Cobia steaks or fillets can also be grilled in foil if need be to preserve moisture content.
Cobia goes equally well with Asian flavors as it does with Western ones (herbs, butter, lemon). Don’t ba afraid to try soy, miso, lemongrass and other Asian ingredients when it comes to cooking cobia.
Cobia Fish Recipes
There are lots of different ways to prepare cobia to take advantage of the sweet taste and very mild fish flavor.
This Cobia with Lemon and Caper Sauce recipe from Betty Crocker is one of our favourites.
You can eat cobia so many different ways that a simple web search will bring up a wide range of ways to cook cobia.
Can you Eat Cobia Raw?
Cobia is eaten as sushi and sashimi. As always, freshness is vital in terms of getting the best results with raw fish.
The other option – to be sure of killing off any parasites – is to freeze and then thaw the cobia before eating it raw. You will sacrifice a bit of flavor, but it provides greater protection when you are eating raw fish.
Cobia can also be done as ceviche – marinated in lime juice with olive oil. This a beautiful way to eat cobia – or any fish really – and works well when you can scoop it up with corn chips.
How to Clean Cobia
Cobia are relatively easy to clean and fillet like all similar large saltwater fish – dorado, amberjack, skipjack tuna, sea bass, striped bass and others.
The keys to it are having a sharp, high quality fillet knife and knowing where to make the cuts.
To summarise, it is about removing the guts and head, filleting the fish and removing the skin (if desired).
These pictorial instructions are really good: https://www.bdoutdoors.com/fishing/how-to-fish/how-to-clean-cobia/
Final Thoughts on Eating Cobia Fish
We hope we’ve been able to convince you to give cobia a try and enoy the sought after cobia taste. It is a sustainable fish with many health benefits and one that is not hard to cook.
Get out and catch one, or buy some fillets, and you can experience first hand the great cobia fish taste.