A commercially important fish, the distinctive flavor makes bluefish a favorite with some diners and repugnant to others. Like all fish, bluefish should be gutted, iced promptly, and eaten fresh. If the fish is not quickly taken care of in this way, the meat will rapidly deteriorate, becoming soft and mushy and assuming a steadily grayer pigmentation. Younger bluefish are considered the best for eating. The fillets are often skinned and the dark red meat on the skin-side and along the lateral line, which is more strongly flavored, can be separately filleted, leaving diners the choice between the darker and the white, slightly gray-blue hued flesh. Bluefish lends itself to the full range of culinary preparation methods. They are often smoked, particularly larger specimens. Smoked and leftover bluefish can be made into pâté and eaten with bread or crackers.
Another proven method that improves the flavor of bluefish is to 'bleed' the fish as soon as it is caught. Simply cut the underside of the fish, starting at the lower front fins and finishing the deep incision at the lower side of the mouth. It is also suggested to make a deep slice where the tail meets the body.
As a migratory fish near the top of the food chain, bluefish can accumulate many toxins in their system ranging from PCBs to mercury. As with most fish of such nature, there are warnings regarding consumption by pregnant or nursing women, or children under six.
The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), called tailor in Australia, is a species of popular marine game-fish found in all climates. It is the sole species of the Pomatomidae family.
In South Africa, this fish is commonly known as shad on the east coast, and elf on the west coast. Shad can not be commercially sold in KwaZulu-Natal and has a closed season (currently October and November) to allow for breeding. On the west coast elf is a commercially fished species.
Other common names are blue, chopper, and anchoa.
The bluefish is a moderately proportioned fish, with a broad, forked tail. The spiny first dorsal fin is normally folded back in a groove, as are its pectoral fins. Coloration is a grayish blue-green dorsally, fading to white on the lower sides and belly. Its single row of teeth in each jaw are uniform in size, knife-edged and sharp. Bluefish commonly range in size from seven inch (18 cm) "snappers" to much larger, sometimes weighing as much as forty pounds (18 kg), though fish heavier than twenty pounds (9 kg) are exceptional.