Can you eat spadefish and how should you cook them?

If your eating habits usually include lots of seafood, you’d like to try something new and you’re thinking of spadefish, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve dedicated this post to the spadefish, the various benefits you get to enjoy if introducing it into your diet, and how to cook it in order to enjoy the best of it.


What is a spadefish?

The spadefish, or Chaetodipterus faber of the family Ephippidae, is a fish that lives in the warmer parts of the western Atlantic but also in some parts of the Pacific Ocean. The deep-bodied, laterally compressed fish resembles the angelfish.  It has black vertical bands on its silver body that may disappear with age so that adults are a solid black, white, or silver.

The spadefish found in Atlantic waters can reach 36 inches and weigh up to 20 pounds whereas the Pacific spadefish can reach up to 26 inches in length. Their flesh is off-white and even if it is tender and mild, it has enough flavor to make it part of one’s diet.

Although some people find their taste too light or bland, they are considered by many fish eaters delicious and even surprisingly good. You can enhance their taste or add to it with various sauces created based on your favorite seasonings. This way you can get it closer to what you want it to taste like.


How to fish for spadefish

If you prefer to procure your food the old way and fish the spadefish that will get on your plate, you need to make sure you follow a few steps to make your fishing fun and productive. You need to locate the areas where you can get a good catch. As a general rule, when they are young, they live in schools that can be found near the shore. When they grow, they distance themselves from the shore further into the ocean.

It is recommended to go for a cannonball jellyfish as a lure since the spadefish is a nibbler. Such fishing lures will make them go bonkers. As far as your equipment is regarded, there’s nothing fancy or complicated you need. A simple fishing line and hook might as well do.

It is best to use a strong fishing tackle, though, as spadefish are curious and have lots of stamina. Since they feed on floating food, it is best to avoid sudden movements in order not to scare them. Therefore, once you cast, it is best not to twitch the fishing bait.


How to clean spadefish

This might be the less pleasant part yet, but if cooked properly, the result is worth your time and effort. Even if the spadefish is deep-bodied, it is very much like a round-bodied fish and, hence, it involves the same cleaning steps as such a fish.

You might need to remove the gills first in order to pull out its insides easily. You can simplify the whole cleaning process by removing the head. You can do that with a quality fishing knife. In case you want to cook it with its head, though, you will need to dig a bit and try to avoid the bony projection at the top of the head.

You can try to clean it like a flounder. If you want to fillet the spadefish, it might get a bit more difficult than in the case of other fish because its fillet is thin at the top and bottom. Plus, the big bone at the back of the body might prove to be an obstacle.

How to grill spadefish

One of the most common ways to cook spadefish is by grilling it. If you prefer to eat your spadefish grilled, too, you need to follow a few steps to make sure you enjoy the best of it. Once you’ve cleaned it, you should heat up the grill and dip the fish in olive oil until the grill warms up.

Use your favorite spices to season the fish. Make sure you put some oil on the grates in order to prevent the spadefish from sticking. Simply place the pieces of meat on the grill for a few minutes. Make sure to flip them so they can cook on both sides.

If you haven’t cooked grilled fish before, you can use a thermometer to know when they’re ready. The meat should be safe to eat when at 135+ degrees Fahrenheit. Olive oil is optional. You can use or any other oil you like. Some recipes include even butter.


How to pan-fry spadefish

If you prefer the pan-frying method, there’s nothing complicated about getting your spadefish ready this way. Just start by making a flavored sauce. Create it according to your preference, be as audacious as you want and use the seasonings and ingredients you go a bundle on. Soak the meat pieces into it and then let these marinate for a few minutes.

Once this time has passed, you should get the pieces out of the sauce to dredge them in flour. According to some recipes, you can add a bit of beer to the flour for enhanced flavor. Use the oil you like or usually go for and pan fry the spadefish pieces for 5-10 minutes.

The meat becomes flaky when cooked, which many people find delicious. If you haven’t tried spadefish before and want to go for it, you might opt for one of the cooking methods described above as they seem to enhance their flavor best. Feel free to try other ways, too.


Final thoughts

If you are not used to eating fish, you might not make too much out of spadefish. If you are a regular fish consumer, though, you might find its taste quite good. It also depends on the way you cook it and the seasonings you use.




1) How to catch spadefish

2) What’s the deal with Spadefish?

3) Are spadefish good to eat or not?

4) Spadefish - all you need to know



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Sandra Marshall
Sandra Marshall
1 year ago

We love spade fish! Scale, remove the gills, leave the head on, stuff the cavity with herbs, garlic, onions, wrap in foil and bake. The roe is awesome too.

Fisher Pants
1 year ago

That’s great, Sandra, we love it too 🙂