Before you even start to ask yourself the question - can you eat sunfish - you have to know what it is and what are its origins, and then if it is safe and how to prepare it into a meal. Sunfish are not like most common fish, thus you have to have a brief moment of research about it to be able to handle it.
But What Is A Sunfish?
Without knowing some of its features, you would end up not fully enjoying this delicacy. The sunfish is also commonly known as mola around the world from its scientific name Mola mola. It is a large species, with a length of approximately five feet, and it has dorsal and ventral fins that help it catch impressive speeds while in the water.
It is a somewhat bigger fish than most species in the ocean and can be found along the temperate and tropical regions of the planet. The sunfish is thick, and a fully grown adult specimen could weigh more than two thousand pounds.
However, you need to know that it is one of the endangered species of marine fish, and overfishing without care for stocks would soon force the species to go extinct - which is a true shame because it is a one-of-a-kind animal. But this also makes it a rare delicacy.
The female sunfish actually produces up to three hundred million eggs at once - more than any other vertebrate on this earth. Moreover, the sunfish has a diet of jellyfish, and it eats a lot of it to maintain its body weight. Now you know why it is huge and why it is best to use sturdy fishing gloves while lifting it - to protect your skin from the effort.
Is It Safe?
Yes, they are safe to eat if prepared properly. The Asians regions of Taiwan, Korea, and Japan are the only few places where you can eat a meal made from sunfish cooked by world-class chefs in a completely safe manner, without fearing you will poison yourself.
In the European Union countries, the sale and consumption of sunfish are banned as it is an endangered species. But if you’re an expert fisher, you can travel to those parts of the world where is legal to eat it - and you can even try your luck at catching one, especially if you arm yourself with a premium portable fish finder and a useful tackle box.
Sous Vide Sunfish with Soy and Chiles
Now it’s time to learn how to cook it. This recipe is quick since the fillets take only 40 minutes to prepare, a period which includes the prep time. They’re so easy to cook and healthy that you can eat the fillets for dinner and for lunch.
You will need two skinless sunfish fillets, pepper, kosher salt, 1/4 cup of tamari, two tablespoons of mirin, vinegar, and honey and one of sesame oil. Also, make sure you have by your side thinly sliced chile and one pepper, three tablespoons of sliced scallion and some lemon.
The first step is to set your preferred cooker to 135°F and then season the fresh sunfish with salt and pepper and some lemon juice. Place it in a large zipper-lock or vacuum seal bag, then seal the bag using the water immersion technique and give it a good shake. Place the bag in the water bath and set your timer for 30 minutes.
When the timer goes off, remove the sealed bag from the water bath, take the fish from the bag and dry the pieces with a piece of cloth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tamari, mirin, and vinegar with the honey, sesame oil, chile, serrano pepper, and lastly, the scallion. Place each sunfish fillet in a bowl and top with the sauce and serve.
Sunfish With Romaine Dressing and Grilled Veggies
This super-easy-to-make recipe will take your dinners to the next level with minimal effort. In less than 26 minutes, you can have a wicked-delicious sunfish dish on the table that’s perfectly cooked and also mouth-watering.
Ok, so you’ll need the following things: two sunfish fillets, 1/3 cup of olive oil, three cups of cold water, three tablespoons of salt and butter, one of sugar, one large bell pepper, and one zucchini and half of a sweet onion. Moreover, you need to make sure you have pickled mustard seeds to taste, salt and pepper plus two eggs.
Other ingredients include one cup of romaine lettuce, chives, mint leaves, basil, half a cup of buttermilk, plus one of grated parmesan cheese, three anchovy fillets and things like lemon juice and olive oil. Ready? Now let’s start cooking it.
The first step is to combine the water, salt, and sugar. Then add the sunfish to the brine, cover it, and refrigerate for a minimum of five hours - needless to say, this step should be done the day before you start cooking.
Then it is time to prepare the romaine dressing, which can be made up to two and a half days in advance. Set your cooker to 154°F, and cook the eggs for 35 minutes and once they’re done, peel them. Next, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and blanch the romaine, basil, mint, and chives for one minute, take them out and then soak them in ice water.
Add the eggs, romaine, basil, mint, parmesan cheese, chives, buttermilk, anchovy fillets, and the lemon juice to a blender and blend until everything turns into a smooth paste. Don’t forget to add olive oil during blending.
For the veggie salad, you need to coat the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper with olive oil, plenty of salt, and pepper, then grill or roast them until nice and browned. After that, slice everything, add the pickled mustard, and add any spice you’d like, and refrigerate.
To cook the sunfish set the cooker to 113°F, bag up the fish with some olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, get a pan hot over medium-low heat, and add plenty of butter until it starts to foam. Then, remove the sunfish from the bag and gently sear for about 50 seconds skin-side down. Put everything on plates, including the salad, and serve it to your guests.