The Local Dish: Grilled Fresh Cobia

The cobia are running so there’s plenty of excitement on the waters in and around Beaufort.

Crossing over the Broad River bridge yesterday I noticed an armada of boats in the river. Locals say there are a couple of well-known areas for fishing from an anchored boat – the Parris Island Rip and the Turtle. Don’t worry about trying to find these spots yourself, just look for the fleet of anchored boats and find yourself a spot. The Broad, Chechessee and Beaufort rivers join to form Port Royal Sound and that is where Cobia find deep saline water.  They range in size from 10 to about 80 pounds so one catch can feed the family for a long, long time!

One delicious way to eat this fish is really quite simple.  Lightly rub the fillet with olive oil, sprinkle it with lemon pepper and garlic powder and fire up the grill.  Put the fillet on indirect heat for about 7 minutes, turn it over and do another 7 minutes on indirect heat. This may take a little longer or shorter time depending on the thickness of the fish. Since you can literally get fish off the grill in a matter of minutes, it’s the perfect after work meal.

Few things can be more frustrating than trying to pull your catch off the grill in one piece. But there’s no shortage of equipment, gadgets, or plain old advice intended to help you get around this problem.  Through lots of trials and errors, I’ve  found that dipping paper towels in vegetable oil and rubbing the oil over the grill grates with long handled tongs, is an effective way to prevent sticking.

The hardest part of grilling fish is knowing when it’s done.

When fish is cooked, the meat will flake easily with a fork and will appear opaque all the way through.  If any part of the meat is still glossy and partiallly translucent, then it’s not done.  If your fillet is evenly cut, the job is a lot esier, but if not, and you end up with one part much thicker than another, consider cutting the fish in two.  Put the thick half on first and when it’s about halfway done, put the thin half on.  This way you will get the fish cooked to perfection without burning any of it.

Flip it gently and leave it there until it is ready to leave the grill.  The edges will be flaky and opaque.  Take it off the grill and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fish, allow it to rest and serve with some Lowcountry Aioli.

Lowcountry Aioli

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the garlic, herbs, egg yolk, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.  Drizzle in the olive oil gradually, processing until the mixture thickens.  Store in an airtight container in the refigerator for up to one week.  This is also delicious on sandwiches as a substitute for mayonnaise.

Grilled cobia with fresh lump crab and a sprinkling of parsley served on baked grits and tomato coulis.

For the coulis:
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste


Photo: Andrew Branning, Recipe: Pat Branning