Can You Eat Peacock Bass?

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering an often asked question when it comes to fishing… can you eat Peacock Bass? Now, the short answer is absolutely, if fact, it is actually an extremely popular table fish.

Can You Eat Striped Bass?
Can You Eat Striped Bass?

The flesh is commonly described as being mild and sweet without being too oily – which as we all know, is often used by people to describe the type of fish they like to eat.

So, let’s look at the in and outs of consuming Peacock Bass below…

What are Peacock Bass?

So, before we start, let’s just quickly clarify a few things around the fact that Peacock Bass are actually not a member of the Bass family at all. Rather they are a member of the Cichlid family and native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America. A smaller number of species including the Butterfly and Speckled Peacock Bass have also been introduced to the continental U.S. is Southern Florida

They draw their name from the distinguished spot on their tail fin that resembles the eyes on a peacock’s tail feathers.  Other physical traits vary from type to type however include dark rosettes, stripes and light speckles. They also share the distinctive flowing dorsal and tail fins of their cichlid cousins as well as the pronounced knob on the forehead of some males during spawning season.

Peacock Bass generally live for up to 10 – 15 years depending on their habitat and can reach sizes of up to 3 feet in length.

Note: Due to concerns around stock levels, most states and jurisdictions implement ‘slot limits’ on catches which determines the minimum and maximum sizes that can be kept as well as bag limits (e.g. 5 per person) on the number that can be harvested on each trip.

can you eat peacock bass - fish on cutting board

Can you eat Peacock Bass?

Definitely! Peacock Bass is an extremely popular table fish with a firm, flaky texture and mild, sweet taste. It is preferred by many also due it the fact that it is not very boney or oily.

Are they any good?

Peacock Bass produce a flesh that is firm with a flaky texture and mild, sweet taste. They are not as boney as some others making them easy to fillet and are also known to not be very oily either.

As they can grow quite large however it is worthwhile keeping in mind that:

  • Due to the fact that they are introduced species to the U.S., many anglers chase them for the sport as ‘catch and release’ only.
  • Older varieties tend to taste a lot stronger or ‘fishier’ so if you are planning to keep one for dinner, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest one you catch.
  • Larger varieties are also more susceptible to worms and parasites and well as higher levels of mercury in some locations.

In most cases, as long as you keep them of legal size without going for the biggest one you can find and you are within your slot limit, then you are generally ok.

Preparation

As with most white meated fish, Peacock Bass do not need to be bled upon capture however if you plan to consume it, then it is always a good idea to place them on ice as soon as possible after it is landed. Many use an ice slurry in a cooler which is generally a ratio of 2 parts ice to 1 part water for this purpose.

Note: As Peacock Bass are found in in fresh water, make sure you clean it thoroughly first so as to remove any impurities that are often evident in these conditions. That said, this species is known as one of the cleaner freshwater fish you can catch.

From here, preparation will be determined by your planned consumption. If they are to be eaten whole then you will need to clean and scale them beforehand. If you plan to pan fry, then you can either scale and fillet or fillet and skin. Keep the meat refrigerated or on ice at all times before and after preparation.

Can you freeze uncooked fillets?

Yes – Raw Striped Bass can be frozen for up to around 6 months. It must at the very least be gutted and cleaned and placed in an airtight bag (ziplock bags are good here) prior to being placed in the freezer.

can you eat peacock bass - peacock bass on ice

Can they be eaten raw?

As they are a relatively clean fish, technically yes. However by most accounts they are really not the best tasting when consumed raw.

How to cook Striped Bass

Peacock Bass are said to be similar to most white fleshed species (as often used on the same context as Snapper or Grouper) in taste and can be prepared as follows:

Grilled

Fillets can be cooked over charcoal or gas grills with any and all spices and seasonings as you see fit. Below is a common recipe:

  1. Heat a grill hot but not smoking.
  2. Pat fillets dry then spread butter or oil over the non-skinned side (or both if fillet is skinned) along with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill fillets until just cooked (fillets start to flake) – Do not overcook as due to the lack of oil the meat will go dry.
  4. Consume with salad or grilled vegetables.

You can of course use any other herbs or spices on the flesh to taste.

Pan Fried

As above, but in a pan – I like to add garlic to the butter when I pan fry white fish fillets with the salt and pepper as well. I have seen many pan fried fish recipes with Asian spices used too so that is also worth a try. Of course, they can also be crumbed as well which entails:

  1. Gather three bowls and in the first, place some flour, eggs (beaten) in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
  2. Pat dry each fillet (skin on or off to preference) and then cover in flour.
  3. Sink the flour covered fillets into the egg mixture and then cover in breadcrumbs
  4. Shallow fry in the oil of your choice in a pan large enough to hold the full size of the fillet.
  5. Spritz with lemon juice and consume with fries (chips), salad or whatever else takes your fancy.

Note: For extra flavour, add salt and pepper to the flour or even some grated Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. I have even seen some good recipes using BBQ rubs on the fillets as well.

can you eat peacock bass - fish in oven tray

Baked

For this last option, the fish is cooked whole in the oven. A cooking example is as below:

  1. Make sure the fish is cleaned and scaled.
  2. Score the skin with a sharp knife (This will stop it shrinking too much from the heat)
  3. Cover the outside with a lubricant such as butter or oil
  4. Fill the cavity with whatever takes your fancy (common options are garlic, herbs, spices, lemon, tomatoes or mustard)
  5. Bake in the oven until just cooked – again, it will dry out if left too long

Note: Based on my research over a number of recipes, a 1.5lb Bass will take around 15 – 30 minutes in a 375 deg oven.

Conclusion

And there you go – my response to the question of whether you can eat Peacock Bass. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences – or recipes – would love to see your recipes below too.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul