Redfish on the Half Shell

Video cooking redfish on the half shell

This Redfish on the Half Shell with cilantro-mayonnaise is a perfect way to prepare your fresh catch. The fish skin and scales provides a barrier against the heat, keeping the fish moist. The redfish is grilled with a mixture of mayonnaise, fresh cilantro, shallot, garlic, and lime zest. The paste locks in the moisture from the top, and adds vibrant Mexican flavor.

Redfish on the half shell on a copper tray with grilled limes after it is grilled.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – What is Redfish on the Half Shell?

When March began, I had never heard of fish “on the half shell.” March 14, we went fishing out of Port Isabel, Texas with our usual fishing buddy, and after a very successful day, he asked if we wanted our redfish filleted “on the half shell.” He owns a Mexican seafood restaurant in McAllen, and I trust his judgment, so I said sure!”

Redfish is a red drum, and is a very popular game fish from Massachusetts to Mexico. It is most definitely a big thing in Texas. I landed a pretty nice-sized fish after quite a fight. We ended up with 3 filleted redfish, and I didn’t wait long to try it on the half shell.

On the half shell is a term that describes a fish fillet (most bones removed), with the skin and scales intact. The skin provides a kind of armor for the fish that helps keep moisture in the fish. It works really well for large fish with thick skins and tough scales. Redfish must be between 20″ and 28,” so we’re dealing with a pretty good sized fish. Mine was pretty close to 28.”

A woman on a boat with a big redfish.
Tamara with a really nice redfish on March 14, 2022!

📋 Grilled Redfish Ingredients

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

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Ingredients for grilled redfish on the half shell: Redfish, mayonnaise, shallot, garlic, cilantro, lime.
  • fish – Obviously, redfish is a good choice for this cooking method. Keeping sized redfish are large with thick skin and scales that are big and tough, making them sturdy enough to do “on the half shell.” The scales act like armor, protecting the meat of the fish. So what other fish work well? In the US, there are 4 standard types of redfish – red drum, red snapper, rosefish, and Acadian redfish (actually an ocean perch). Grouper and large rockfish, and fresh water striped bass would work well also.
  • mayonnaise – I like olive oil mayonnaise for this fish recipe.
  • cilantro – I grab the bunch of cilantro at the base of most of the leaves, and twist to remove the thicker stems. The thin stems are mild enough to be processed with the shallot and garlic.
  • shallot – Red onion or scallions are good substitutes.
  • garlic – I like to use whole cloves cut into 2 or 3 pieces. While I often use minced garlic in a jar, this cilantro-mayonnaise doesn’t really get cooked, and the flavor is milder with fresh garlic.

🔪 Instructions

  • Preheat a grill at medium-high heat. If you’d rather not grill the fish, preheat the oven to 475°. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Lay the redfish fillet(s) skin side down, on a baking sheet.
  • When the fish is done, gently remove it with a large spatula, or two spatulas if you need to. On photo day, I made redfish tacos, so I went ahead and flaked it.
The finished grilled redfish with cilantro-mayonnaise that has been flaked with a fork.

💭 Tips

For a more sophisticated presentation, you can use a large, flexible spatula to slide the fillet off the skin and onto a platter. Discard the skin.

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Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. The fish needs to be opaque all the way to the skin. If any part of the fish is still shiny or transparent, it’s not done. Don’t overcook. Properly cooked fish is moist but flaky.


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🐟 Suggested Recipe Idea

When I was working on the grilled redfish on the half shell, we made fish tacos. Simply flake the fish with a fork, and add your favorite fish taco toppings! See redfish tacos after 3/27 for more specific instructions.

4 redfish tacos in a white ceramic taco holder with orange textile and copper fork.

My husband Mark and I are avid fishermen (fisherwoman?). We love both ocean and freshwater fishing. I will continue to provide recipes that spotlight fresh caught fish, but keep in mind, there are high-quality options that can be substituted!

🐟 Recipes to Pair with Grilled Redfish

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>