How to cook bonefish

A surprising number of searches get directed to this website for the search terms “How to cook bonefish,” or “cooking bonefish.”

Don’t eat bonefish.  Really… just don’t do it.  I know some cultures have a history of doing it, and for them, I say “I wish you wouldn’t, but understand if you harvest one every once in a while.”  If you are not one of those people I just say “DON’T DO IT!”

These are game fish that are way too valuable to be eaten.  Go get some Mahi Mahi, go get some carnitas (mmmmm, carnitas) or kalua pig (mmmmmm, other form of pork).  Don’t eat bonefish.  In Florida, they figure that each bonefish, over its lifetime will contribute about $75,000 to the Florida economy, about $2,500 each year.  This is sustainable, catch and release angling.  These are good jobs which value local eyes and local color.  This isn’t cleaning up the puke from spring breakers… these are good jobs.

If you absolutely MUST cook a bonefish, here is what you need to know….

  • Take a 6″ bonefish (bonefish over 6″ are poisonous and will kill you with the slightest taste) and set aside.
  • Get a kettle of oil, fill kettle all the way to the top and heat to 650 degrees.
  • Call fire department.
  • Run out of burning building.

If you think you can’t destroy the bonefish stock and that they’ll always be there, just ask the people of Campeche in Mexico. There used to be bonefish there and there aren’t bonefish there anymore. Haven’t been bones there for 20 years or more at this point. Netting is what did it. You can pretty well wipe out a whole population with modern nylon netting.

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  1. I never heard of bonefish before… Other than the retaurant. Strange to name retautrant after a food that could kill you. Anyhow, thought you might like a link to backup the poisonous facts. I found this after reading your site.

  2. Bonefish poisonous? Since when. Maybe Florida bonefish are poisonous but I haven’t run across any place else that is. I wouldn’t eat Florida bonefish because, the fishing guides depend on it. Besides, they are too small. If you want some big ones, then you have to go to Hawaii, Wake Island, Kiribatis, or the Marshall Islands to name a few. Rongelap in the Marshall Islands would be a good choice for bonefishing the big guys. Florida is too overfished. Off all of them, Wake Island is the best, but it is virtually impossible to get to fish unless you work there. I have fished it and it is phenomenal! And made fishcake with the bonefish catch. Still alive.

  3. Yup… totally poisonous… so you shouldn’t kill them. Also, Bald Eagles are poisonous. And puppies.

  4. You guys are idiots to believe bonefish to be poisonous. They are very difficult to prepare, but very delicious. First, get a mallet and tap away at the fish. Tenderize all the meat within. Once the meat is all mushed inside, cut off the tail and squeeze the meat out. Make croquet as. Yum. The guy who wrote this is a supreme pu$$y. Grow up. No such thing as a game fish. If you’re hungry, eat it.

  5. bonefishbjorn

    Thanks Mike. Glad to see you totally miss the entire concept of sarcasm. It really helps get the point across that most folks who eat bonefish are troglodytes. So, keep at it. I also love that you want to call me a pussy, but think that’s too vulger or something, so you have to write pu$$y. Yup. What a jackass (or, as you’d write it “jacka$$”).

  6. Chunks Jaxson

    Now now boys, let’s not get so excited.
    Bjorn, I wasn’t sure if you were being sarcastic or not so I can see Mike’s confusion.
    Mike, Bjorn has a point. You could have simply called him a vagina and achieved the correct vulgarity to propriety ratio.

    Like fishing, hunting, smoking, drinking, etc., life is about balance and moderation.

    I hope my sage wisdom has diffused this contentious situation.

  7. The best is to make won-tons with ‘O’io (Hawaiian name for bonefish). Squeeze out or scrape with a spoon all of the meat, season with salt/pepper add chopped water chestnuts, chopped green onions and wrap a spoonful in a won-ton wrapper and fry golden brown. Yep I’m one of those guys in Hawaii who knows we have to many tourist and a healthy population of ‘O’io that taste great! Plus ours are twice as big as the Atlantic vagina bones. idiot!

  8. Pro Tip Ben. If you are going to call me an idiot you might want to look into the difference between “to” and “too.” Aloha to you, buddy.

  9. You can stick your head in a burning kettle if you wanna bjorn, but I’m gonna catch some oio today and make more fish katsu, so good luck with your way of cooking em.

  10. bonefishbjorn

    Ha… you do you… but really… go eat a burger.

  11. 75k per bonefish, that is complete bullshite

  12. That’s actually not bullshite. Just because you don’t know a thing, or don’t understand the math doesn’t mean it isn’t real. There is some real value in those fish, which is a fact which is true regardless of your belief in it.

  13. Loved your response to Ben re to and too. Noticed that right away, two. Oops. I mean to. Wait…too.
    Anyway, just red (say ‘read’) all about bonefish. Don’t know why. I’ve never fished before, just curious about The Bonefish Grill and where it got it’s… wait, I mean its name.
    Here’s a tip. Don’t bother. What a waste of $$. And they don’t even have bonefish on the menu.

  14. Alastair Boyd

    I thought it was very funny.Thank you. P.S Whats a good substitute in the UK?

  15. He is not from Hawaii so he doesn’t know that we been eating O’io forever. I remember my father making O’io fish cakes when we would catch some when camping. It was ono or delicious to those non-Hawaiians. I guess it really depends where you grow up!

  16. Of course Hawaiians have been eating O’io forever. Yeah… I get that. But Hawaiians haven’t been using monofilament nets for forever. You change the technology and the impact can be massive. Humans can adapt. It’s not like you can’t catch the last bonefish in Hawaii. You easily could. As the folks around Campeche in Mexico. You don’t find bonefish there anymore.

  17. Bjorn, don’t know if you’ll see this at this point but … I’m not a bonefisherman but read your article and did catch both the love of the sport and the sarcasm. Enjoyed it. Screw the rest of the knuckle heads, write on my friend!

  18. I used to live in disappears do keys I’ve always caught an released….cause we had way better fish to eat….snapper. Dud….

  19. One angry hawaiian

    You’re a kook Bjorn! Just cause o’io is something you don’t eat ,that doesn’t make it wrong for us Hawaiians to eat! You just a typical haole, judgmental and ignorant. Not smart to talk shit about Hawaiians when there are pictures of you on this shitty blog! I see you like to fish here in Hawaii, I hope to see you fishing for o’io so I can give you a proper Hawaiian welcome! Keep your condescending comments to yourself and let native people continue on with their traditional lifestyles. Aloha, bitch!

  20. Ah, another fan. Thanks for finding the blog, but I’d ask that you actually read the words. I’m not talking shit about Hawaiians and I say in the post that I understand if it is a traditional thing for your people. I also point out that in no way was your grandfather’s grandfathers able to harvest 300 fish in one outing (like in that picture). See… they didn’t have modern netting and if you apply modern fishing techniques to fish stocks like bonefish you can remove every single last one of those fish from your waters. It has been done already in many places. You aren’t immune just because you choose to ignore the issue.

    There are folks out there trying to make a difference, find a sustainable way to live and make a living. Check out Itu’s Bones ( or the story of Ana Atoll.

    The use of modern netting is a way to kill bonefish populations. It’s that simple. Don’t continue on, kill off all the bonefish and then shrug and say “There used to be bonefish everywhere… I don’t know what happened to them.” Are there more bonefish in Hawaii now than there used to be or are there fewer?

    Thanks for the threat, that was special. You just keep on with that aloha spirit. I think… and, ya know, what do I know, right? but, I think you might not really capture the whole meaning of “aloha” when you pair it with “bitch.” Maybe ask someone about that.

  21. Any fish that you have to mush up and mix with other crap to eat is not worth eating.

    Give me some good Sea Trout or even Whiting!!

  22. Fuck it eat some catfish lol. Just saying. I am a catch and release type of guy as well. Fish on my friendly brothers. Fish off

  23. Bjorn has a great point though. Some fish are for eating and others are gamefish. Looks like to me he considers them a game fish as well as a job in Florida. I defiantly respect the way you feel about the situation. Keep up the good work. And fish on my brother. We release bass. Musky. Lots of trout. Yes we can eat all of these fish but why when there are abundance of better fish to eat. Good luck my friend and great fishing. Fish off

  24. Some people in Hawaii make a great dish called “lomi o’io” — you basically take the raw fish and completely mush it into a paste. Add minced limu, ground roasted kukui nut, thin slices of round onion, some dried red pepper flakes. Raw fish isn’t for everyone, and people who aren’t used to eating fish this way may have an aversion to it. But if you have an open mind it’s pretty awesome! Can be served on rice or just eat it straight.

    But you’re absolutely right though: without a mind towards conservation, species can be wiped out. Unchecked capitalism has been and will be the end of many species. Hawaiians used to build shore-based fish ponds to cultivate and harvest fish for consumption; perhaps that’s something we should return to.

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