While it is possible to eat jack crevalle, it is not widely considered a desirable fish for consumption. Jack crevalle are primarily sought after as a sport fish due to their aggressive nature and strong fighting ability rather than for their culinary value. However, some individuals may enjoy the strong fishy taste of jack crevalle or find ways to prepare it that suit their palate.
The jack crevalle, which also may be called the common jack, trivially, yellow cavalli, black cavalli, or couvalli jack, is a popular marine type of fish found in the tropical and warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. While these fish are typically a thrilling catch for fishermen, they are often avoided because many think the flesh cannot be eaten.
In this article, we will uncover why this fish species should not be considered just another junk fish within the ocean. If you like the strong taste of rainbow trout, you will most certainly enjoy the flavor of a jack crevalle.
What Is a Jack Crevalle?
Jack crevalle are abundant in the waters both inshore and offshore. They are predatory fish with power and quickness comparable to that of many types of tuna fish. To the delight of fishermen, jack crevalle are active eaters and respond well to many lures and baitfish that are used by hook-and-line methods.
Fishermen welcome the bite as they are considered to be an exciting gamefish. They have a distinct look which helps anglers identify them right away. Their deep body features many profound shapes and colors that can be slightly altered depending on their diet and location.
They typically grow to a size of 4-6 pounds but can exceed 40 pounds! Their length can range from anywhere between 1-4 feet.
If the fish fail to migrate to warmer waters, they won’t survive. Unfortunately, mass mortalities have occurred from these fish not reaching more tolerable waters.
Understanding the jack crevalle’s habitat helps us better understand why their flesh is safe to eat and a healthy fish for our diet.
The biggest problem with this fish is the lack of knowledge among most fishermen. To this day, many still consider this fish to be inedible.
Where to Catch Jack Crevalle?
Jack crevalle are found in various warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Some popular locations where you can go saltwater fishing for jack crevalle include:
- Florida, USA: Jack crevalle are commonly found in the coastal waters of Florida, including the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Florida Keys. Areas such as Tampa Bay, Miami, Destin, and the Everglades are known for good jack crevalle fishing.
- Texas, USA: Along the Texas Gulf Coast, you can find jack crevalle in areas such as Galveston Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, and South Padre Island.
- Mexico: The coastal waters of Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula, Baja California, and the Pacific coast, offer opportunities for jack crevalle fishing.
- Caribbean Islands: Jack crevalle can be found in the waters surrounding many Caribbean islands, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
- Central and South America: Countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Brazil, and Venezuela have coastal waters where jack crevalle can be targeted.
What Is the Biggest Jack Crevalle Ever Caught?
Back in 2021, Nicholas Fano, 12, caught a 58-pound, 8-ounce jack crevalle in Bessey Creek (Palm City), earning him two fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association.
Can You Eat a Jack Crevalle?
As we already mentioned, yes, you can eat a jack crevalle!
However, there are a few important steps that need to be followed in order to consume this fish safely as well as to help unlock the best taste:
- Jack crevalle are aggressive swimmers and can reach some incredibly high speeds underwater. This means it will have a strong flow of blood throughout their body. If your end goal is to eat the fish, then the fish must be bled out as soon as it is caught – best when still alive.
- Like most fish, freshness should be of the utmost importance. After the fish is bled out, store it in a lot of ice in a location out of the sun and away from heat.
- While some people actually enjoy the bloodline of the fish, I strongly recommend avoiding that part of the loin when eating this fish. It has a real gamey taste and the meat is really dark compared to the average bloodline of other fish.
What Does the Jack Crevalle Taste Like?
The taste of jack crevalle is often described as being fishy, oily, and somewhat gamey. The meat is generally firm and coarse in texture, and it can be darker in color compared to other fish.
The strong flavor of jack crevalle is attributed to its high oil content. Some people find the flavor overpowering and may not enjoy it, while others appreciate its unique characteristics.
How Do You Clean and Fillet a Jack Crevalle?
- Always bleed and clean the fish as soon as the jack crevalle is caught – you may bleed the fish out by cutting the gills. Feel free to remove the cuts as well.
- Now, to start filleting, insert the knife at the backbone and run it down along the dorsal fin line. Cutting down the backbone should create a ‘clicking’ noise – this helps carve out the loins.
- Next, try your best to execute an angled cut located in the back of the pectoral fin. Cut through the belly down to the tail. This may prove to be a little tricky due to the scales of the fish.
- For the last cut, you will need to free the loins from the body of the fish.
- At this point, you can decide whether or not to cut the bloodline. As mentioned earlier, I strongly recommend that you do this as it tends to have a more profound taste the bigger the fish is.
- When you have your final loins of meat, do not soak them in fresh water. It is always best to rinse fish with a saltwater hose to maintain the flesh’s flavor and integrity.
Here’s a simplified way of fileting a jack crevalle:
How Do You Cook Jack Crevalle?
If you decide to cook jack crevalle, here are a few general tips for preparing and cooking it:
- Cleaning and Preparation: Remove the scales, gut the fish, and rinse it well with saltwater if possible. Cut the fish into fillets or steaks, depending on your preference.
- Marinade or Seasoning: Due to the strong flavor of jack crevalle, marinating the fish can help mellow out the taste. Consider using acidic marinades with ingredients like lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, or a combination of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor.
- Grilling: Grilling is a great way to cook jack crevalle. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates. Place the fish fillets or steaks on the grill and cook 4-6 minutes per side. Flip the fish only once to avoid sticking. The flesh should flake easily with a fork when done.
- Baking or Broiling: Another option is baking or broiling the fish. Preheat the oven to a moderate temperature (around 375°F or 190°C). Place the fillets or steaks on a greased baking sheet or in a baking dish. Season your jack crevalle with your choice of herbs, spices, or marinade. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
- Frying or Sauteing: Jack crevalle can also be pan-fried or sautéed. Heat a skillet with oil or butter over medium-high heat. Season the fish with your desired spices or a light coating of flour, and place it in the skillet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the fish is cooked through and golden brown.
The cooking times should be adjusted based on the thickness of the fish and monitor it closely to prevent overcooking, as jack crevalle can become dry and tough if cooked for too long.
It’s important to note that the taste and texture of jack crevalle can vary, so experimenting with different cooking methods and flavors can help you find a preparation style that suits your preferences.
What is the Best Recipe for Cooking Jack Crevalle?
Grilled Jack Crevalle with Citrus Marinade
- 2 jack crevalle fillets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lime
- Zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs (such as parsley or cilantro), chopped (optional)
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon zest, lime zest, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to make the marinade.
- Place the jack crevalle fillets in a shallow bowl or in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Ensure the fish is well-coated with the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for 30 min – 1 hour, turning the fillets once or twice to distribute the flavors evenly.
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove the jack crevalle fillets from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off. Discard the remaining marinade.
- Place the fillets on a lightly oiled grill grate. Cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the flesh is opaque and easily flakes with a fork. Avoid overcooking, as jack crevalle can dry if cooked too long.
- Once cooked, transfer the grilled jack crevalle fillets to a serving platter. Sprinkle them with fresh herbs, if desired, for added freshness and flavor.
- Serve the grilled jack crevalle immediately with your favorite side dishes or a fresh salad.
This recipe enhances the natural flavors of jack crevalle while adding a citrusy and aromatic touch. Feel free to adjust the marinade ingredients and seasonings to your taste preferences.
To Sum Up
As a popular catch for those who fish in warm waters around reefs, bays, lagoons or ocean depths of up to 1200 feet, the jack crevalle can be a tasty fish. However, many anglers have discounted this fish for years because of the thick, dark meat and robust taste.
These fish are being under-utilized and even worse, wasted. As they grow to a larger size (greater than 15 pounds), it is best to catch and release the females in order to protect and grow their population. The jack crevalle fish can certainly be treated as an asset in our oceans. Now, it is time to welcome this fish to your ice cooler.