Bowfin Recipes

Bowfin can make a fine meal, in moderation, and many folks are looking for recipes, so I've gathered them here. For 2012, BAGman is taking a sabbatical, so go finnin' and have fun!

As a general rule, bowfin (like most fish) is best when very fresh and hot from the pan. If you kill the fin at 8am and leave it on the bank while fishing for another 8 hours on a ninety degree day, you will be disappointed at the very least.

Visit Science to read about the EPA mercury advisory, and use your judgment.

Cajun Fried Choupique Fish Cakes, courtesy of Real Cajun Cooking

These fish cakes are wonderful when served with French fries and Peno Puppies. Makes 8 - 12 servings.


Lightly sprinkle both sides of the fillets with Old Bay Original seasoning
In a medium pan, add the seasoned fillets and enough water to barely cover the fish
On medium heat, bring the water to a slow simmer, then lower the heat (do not boil)
Cover and poach the fillets until flaky, (about 10 minutes), then remove with a slotted spatula
Set the poached fillets aside a few minutes to drain and cool before breaking apart
In a separate bowl wisp together the eggs, chopped green onions, parsley, onion powder and Cajun seasonings
Mix everything together thoroughly and form fish patties (about 4" in diameter)
Coat the patties with Italian bread crumbs
Add about 2 inches of peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet (or other heavy skillet)
Fry at 365 degrees F. for about 4 minutes on each side (until golden brown)
Cut lemons into several wedges to serve with the fish patties

JacquesG, Real Cajun Cooking, 08/26/11

Bowfin Tacos

It uses one whole 2lb fish to feed two adults. The fish should be gutted then frozen, then allowed to defrost in the fridge so that the meat literally turns to mush when you try to clean it.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and pour in lime juice (lemon works in a pinch, but lime gives the fish a little extra 'zing'). Scrape your fish flesh out of the bowfin with a spoon, knife, fingers, or whatever else works. Fling the mushy stuff into the skillet and allow it to simmer in the lime juice, chopping it apart as it cooks (this gives it the right consistency for taco meat). Once it's cooked and most of the lime juice has been absorbed or cooked off, drain your meat then mix in the taco seasoning of your choice, following the directions on the package. The fish doesn't overpower the seasoning's flavor, so you get a much more potent kick than you do when you use beef.

Serve on tortillas with salsa, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and anything else you desire. Yum!!

(BTW, great site! I sooooo should've submitted the picture of the 24" behemoth we caught in Foster's Creek down here in South Carolina.)
WendyH, 01/09/11

Choupique (and Gar) Patties

Leave fish alive till ready to grind. Boil red potatoes. When potatoes are done, peel them and chop them into small chunks. Grind together potatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots in a large bowl.
Clean your choupique and fillet completely. Take out ribs and make sure there is no skin left on them. Cut choupique into chunks and grind with all your previously ground ingredients. Season with cayenne pepper and salt. Add about 4-8 tbs of Worstershire sauce, mix very well. Add breadcrumbs, just enough to barely cover the top of your other ingredients, then mix well and form into patties.
Preheat skillet on medium heat. In a small amount of cooking oil, cook patties all the way through. Enjoy! This also works with garfish too - just make sure fish is properly skinned and filleted.
ScottH, 03/12/10

Bowfin (and Gar) Patties

I fried gar many times. Season well and deep fry. No batter, corn meal or flour. But, I preferred mine in patties. We bought a "hunk" of gar. I used a spoon and raked that across the meat. It takes out the meat and leaves the connector tissue. Mix with egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic power, onion powder). Make into a pattie and pan fry in shallow oil. Soooooo good!

But, the "mud fish" (shoepick, cypress trout) makes the best fish patties. Do the same way with the spoon, egg, bread crumbs and season. These are even better.
Lois B, LA, 05/08/09

Bowfin Fillets

Use cornmeal or any type package of fish breading; salt/pepper to your liking, and above all Seafood MagicĀ®. How much to use you ask: sprinkle generously into the seasoning. I suggest you put a little on your finger and taste so you can see how much to add. I don't measure anything in this recipe. Anyway, get oil hot, I use peanut oil, but that would be your preference. Drop filets in, cook until coating turns golden brown, take out and let cool for about........heck after you take the first bite, you ain't gonna wait fer it to cool. And this my friend, will make any beer taste like champagne.
FinMeister (JohnC), 10/20/08

Best Breading in the World!

Blend all ingredients in food processor until coarse in grind. Roll fillet in beaten egg then breading. Deep fry until golden in color and flakes easily. This is good on veggies and mushrooms too.
Roger W, 07/21/08

Bowfin Fillets

Contrary to what most people evidently believe, I have found that the fish don't have to be eaten immediately in order for them to be palatable. I do kill the fish and fillet them before they have a chance to die and turn mushy. After removing the fillets from the carcass, and then removing the scales, I bag the fillets and keep them on ice until I get home. At home, I remove rib bones and any small portions of bloody flesh or other unwanted remains. The fillets are then ready for cornmeal and immediate use or cornmeal and freezing for later use. I have had good experience with keeping the prepared fillets (don't season fillets to be kept for extended period of time) up to a full year, in my freezer. When the fillets are thawed, they are cut into desired portion size, re-rolled in cornmeal and then deepfried or baked. When I am deep frying the grinnel, I like to cut them so that the pieces are approx. 1" wide by the length of the fillet from top to bottom.
When I found your site, I was actually looking for information on grinnel caviar! I guess I will have to give that a try - though I am not too keen on the idea of eating raw fish eggs!
Happy fishing and God bless,
NickE, MO, 04/28/08

TimT's Baked Buttermilk Bowfin

This makes for one scrumptious meal and it's not only for bowfin. I use it on most my fish. I hope you all like it as much as I do.
TimT, NCPierman, NC, 03/14/07

Lil Roo's Pickled Dogfish

BAGman, here is the secret recipe for which security clearance is needed.

It will be good for a couple of months. Enjoy! Lil Roo, 03/26/06

JohnD's Bowfin Stew

I made a nice bowfin stew today similar catfish stew. I skinned the bowfin pieces I had in freezer, slightly unthawed, by running a sharp knife between skin and flesh. It may have helped to use some catfish skinning pliers. Boil the fish in water and some salt, drain, then remove the bones and put fish back in the now empty pot. Finely dice some potatoes, celery, onion, a few pieces of lean bacon, and some green onion. Add to pot with a couple of cans of diced tomatoes then add enough water to cover. Add a couple of caps of vegetable oil, salt and pepper, chopped fresh parsley and dry, powdered chicken bouillon, and one (or more) small dry red hot pepper.

Well to tell you the truth, I liked this better than the catfish stew. I served it over white rice to make a soup style stew. It is a great and delicious stew - bon appetit!
John D in SC 02/06/06

You can substitute homemade or canned, low salt chicken broth in place of the water and powdered bouillon. Thanks "America's Test Kitchen!"

Nathan's Fried Fins

Hey, I've been hoarding a massive amount of Bowfin in my freezer out back for a while now, and I just cooked my biggest fillets up last night. All I did was take a cast iron skillet, fill it about 2" deep with oil, salt and pepper the fillets, sprinkle a good bit of powder cornmeal on top. I dropped them in there and they came out as the whitest meat I've ever cooked. I knew the oil was hot enough to cook when the mosquitoes flying into it began to sizzle when they hit! They fillets were about 4 lbs a piece and took 7 minutes both sides, not too long. The skin was left on and made for a nice textured feel. Cotton-Fish? Ha, what fool cooked their Fin wrong enough for it to taste like cotton? Definitely an excellent taste. Thought this might be helpful to post somewhere, seeing as it's so simple.

Duane R's Recipes

I recently was turned on to the bowfin. A friend of mine brought me some filets of this fish. He told me that most people throw them back in. He told me to blacken them to make them taste good. As a test, I made a homemade beer batter and fried one half and the other half I blackend in a skillet. It was awesome. They were so good that now I fish for them all the time. They put up such a fight! I work in food service and want to put together a cook book for recipies for the bowfin. I already have 2 good ones with more in mind.

Blackened Bowfin

4 nice fillets, Sprinkle with garlic powder, Seasoned Salt, Oregeno, Basil, Crushed Red Peppers, Cayenne, Lemon Pepper, and Fresh Ground Pepper. Then give a few shots of Tabasco or Cholula. Heat a cast iron skillet and add 3 Tablespoons of Butter. Make sure the skillet is hot. Lay in the Fillets and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Be sure to lay the fillets with the seasoned side down. Then repeat the seasoning while the other side is cooking. Put a lid on it to help trap the steam and make the cooking process quicker. Garnish with Parsley and Lemon Slices. Enjoy!

Beer Battered Bowfin

Batter- 1 cup Flour, 1 cup Cornmeal, 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder, 1 egg - beaten, 1 teaspoon Salt. 1 bunch fresh parsley minced. 1 bottle of beer. 1 Tablespoon black pepper. 1/2 cup water. A Few Shots of Tabasco or Cholula. Mix with a wire whip. Add water if batter seems too thick or tighten with flour if too thin. Put a 1/4 cup of flour in a bowl with salt and pepper. Mix Well. Coat the fillets in this mixture and then dip in the beer batter. Drop into oil that is 350 degrees. Fry until golden brown. Serve with Tartar Sauce or your favorite sauce. Have fun with this. Be sure to serve this dish with some Ice Cold Beer. Enjoy!

Duane R 03/05/05

Joey B's Recipes

I have heard of people smoking a choupic whole by gutting it and deheading it then smoking it in a pit but I have never done this. Choupic patties are popular. Basically it's choupic and various vegetables (onions, shallots, bell peppers, etc.) ground up and coated with bread crumbs and fried. This is the method people use when they have plenty of fish and want to freeze some. They cook these and store and freeze them.

The method I am most accustomed to and enjoy the most is frying them. I fillet the fish keeping just the fillet from the side. Occasionally if I don't have many fish I will keep the back bone, ribs, and under part of their stomach which are all good pieces except for the bones you have to pick around. After I fillet them, I wash the meat and cut it into small pieces, almost as small as popcorn chicken. I season the fish with various spices (red pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder - all just enough to lightly coat meat) and sometimes I put mustard on them too (this gives a unique taste to any type of fish being fried). Then I just batter them in a fish fry batter. Around here we have something called Zatarain's Fish Fri which I doubt is available anywhere else.

You can buy it online direct from Zatarain's

Corn meal batter also works well, if you season the batter. I coat the fish with the batter and I throw them in a pan with some vegetable oil and fry them until they a nice golden brown. Depending on how much crunch you want depends on how long you fry them. This method is my favorite and most people even around here think I'm odd for saying that choupic is my favorite fried fish, but it is.
Joey B (from LA) 08/16/04

Kent M's Recipes

This fish is very good if kept alive until everything is ready for deep frying, and I do mean everything. Simply fillet the fish, rinse quickly, then use your favorite dip for catfish and deep fry. Do not let the fish sit at all after filleting.
Sometimes we will fix a shore lunch. We gather whatever wild greens and tubers that are available, and any wild berries we can find. We cook them in small pot. Boil the water 15 minutes to purify it before adding the veggies. We use a cast iron skillet to fry fish or for walk-in places we use aluminum foil. Have good bed of coals before filleting live fish. When using a skillet, get the oil hot before filleting fish. Roll the fillets in a dry mix (half flour, half Jiffy cornbread mix) then fry. For aluminum foil, wrap fillets in foil after seasoning. Wrap twice, put on coals, turn once after 5 minutes, cook for 10 minutes then check for doneness. Hot summer weather is best time for 'fin fishing.
Kent M

Thanks Kent, and I look forward to a fin shore lunch - sounds like the ideal time!

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