Wahoo Stew
Jerry Dilsaver

While I don't know exactly why, wahoo have always been a favorite fish of mine. I've caught them from small to fairly big, but I've never had one of those 80 pound or heavier hogs. I've had steaks from a few of those big mamas and they still tasted excellent, so maybe my fascination is that these colorful offshore speed merchants taste good from their juvenile size all the way to as big and old as they get. This recipe is proof of that and is as pleasant with a little fish as with its great granddad. 

My smallest wahoo might be the most memorable, but it was in a humorous, rather than an awesome way. I caught it back during the 1980's while a guest aboard the Earlee Bird, with Capt. Earle Batts and mate Ed Braxton. We were fishing the Wrightsville Beach Blue Marlin Tournament and were pulling a huge chuggerhead, with a horse ballyhoo, off the shotgun rod from the bridge.

We has just finished clearing lines from crossing a weed/trash line when the shotgun rod bucked briefly and the big Fin-Nor reel burped and gave up about a yard of line. The rod tip remained bent, so I began to reel it in, expecting to clear some weeds or trash off it again.

When the lure reached the transom, there was a 13-15 pound wahoo attached to the hook and it was already dead. Apparently the high strike drag on the marlin setup was so stiff the reel didn't give up line and it broke the little wahoo's neck on the strike. It was already dead and never struggled during the fight or once it got to the boat about two minutes later.

Small, live or dead, it didn't matter. It still tasted very good. It would have also been good with this recipe.

2 Pounds wahoo fillets or steaks.
5 Slices bacon.
1 Red bell pepper.
1 Medium sweet onion.
5 Medium potatoes.
1 Can (6 Oz.) tomato paste.
1 Can (24 Oz.) diced tomatoes.
2 1/2 Cup water.
1 Bay leaf.
Salt (Mrs. Dash in your favorite flavor for those watching their salt intake).
Hot sauce (the Captain's favorite is Louisiana brand in the roasted garlic flavor).

Cut grouper into roughly thumb-size pieces.
Cut bacon into small pieces.
Dice pepper and onion.
Peel potato and cut into roughly thumb-size pieces.
Saute bacon and onion in 2 or 3 quart cast iron pot.
Add water and stir in tomato paste, potatoes, pepper, tomatoes and season (salt and pepper) to personal taste.
Cover and simmer until the potatoes are done.
Add wahoo chunks.
Add a few drops of hot sauce (More can be added for individual preferences once served).
Cover and cook until the fish is lightly done (roughly 10 minutes).

Serve with hot corn bread and a fresh green salad. Enjoy.


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