Island Cooking

Fish on the BBQ

by Chef Jenn Farmer

Recently a dear friend showed up on a surprise visit. I had not seen him in more than six years and was overwhelmed and a little shocked to see him. He was one of my favorite people to hang out with when he lived on Nantucket. He is a great chef, a cowboy, and a very humorous individual, but an avid fisherman, and he would take me out to Great Point with him on some of his outings. Unfortunately his visit was far too short, but we had a moment to recall some of our adventures, and mishaps.

One such outing I recall began with the cowboy arriving in his pickup truck, poles lined up along the front bumper, shining in the sun. I should have known it was going to be an interesting day when he asked me to get a little more ice for the cooler, which I noticed, only contained beer and whiskey. We picked up another chef, who was from Los Angeles, and never fished off the shore, just on charter boats.

The next thing I knew we were cruising down the beach, and he was aiming his truck and gunning the engine at pesky seagulls that meandered into our path. We saw several seals on the beach, so decided to go to the other side of the Point. Seals are cute, but real pests when fishing, they steal bait off lines, and sometimes take bites out of fish as they are being reeled in.

We found an area that suited us and began to bait up our lines. We gave the chef from L.A. a couple quick pointers, and let him go. I was baiting up my line, and the cowboy was cracking open the whiskey. We passed it back and forth a couple times, keeping an eye on our friend. He was managing to catch a lot of seaweed, but that is not uncommon. The cowboy wandered over to give him advice, “cast out a little further, you will get past that patch of weeds.” So that is what my friend did—he cast very hard, and as the line was arching upward the lure was snapped from the line by his powerful swing. Out flew the lure over the ocean, and all of us sighed in frustration. This happened again on the next cast, which caused me to crack up, but the boys were still somber, attempting another strategy. I did not do much better when I cast out, I had a tiny knot in the line which caused it to stop short as it flew out, swinging back rapidly the lure getting caught on my clothes and in my hair. After untangling, and fixing the line, I managed to get in a few good casts, but the boys weren’t so lucky. In fact we ended up catching no more than a buzz and a false albacore, that we tossed back. The trip was not entirely a bust, I always have fun when I am with these friends, and my sides were hurting from laughing at their bantering back and forth. As we loaded up the truck the cowboy regaled us with one of my favorite true stories about taking someone fishing for the first time ever.

Much like the saying he had “beginner’s luck” and on his first good cast, a fish bit on the line. He excitedly did as he was instructed to do and yelled “Fish On.” The cowboy was too busy reeling in a big one, and could not help this novice out. He instructed the greenhorn to “reel it in, reel it in”, which meant nothing to the man. So he did the only thing he could think of and he started to run up onto the beach with the pole in tow, as fast as he could, attempting to pull the fish onto the shore in that manner. Just imagining it still makes me chuckle, I only wish I could have been witness to it.

Since the fish have been biting lately around the island, here are a coupleof recipes for the keepers.


  • 8-10 large mackerel, gutted
  • One half cup olive oil
  • One half cup dry white wine
  • One small onion , finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled

Marinate the mackerel at least 6 hours, but up to 12 hours. Heat the grill to medium high heat, and grill the mackerel until they are cooked through. Eat while hot, they are very good with a little lemon and splash of hot sauce.


  • 30 clams, cleaned (mussels or oysters can be substituted)
  • One half stick butter
  • One tablespoon garlic, minced
  • Splash Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fire up the grill to medium- high heat. Put the shellfish on the grill or in a grill basket on the grill. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan on the grill, add the remaining ingredients, and heat it up. Pull clams off the grill as they open, try to be careful not to lose the natural liquid inside the clam shells, it is delicious. Discard any clams that don’t open. Drizzle the butter sauce over the calms and enjoy immediately.


  • Striped Bass Filets (one for each guest
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the grill to medium heat, and score the skin side –about one quarter inch deep incisions cross hatch patterned. Rub the filets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill presentation side down first (not skin side). Carefully lift and grill the fish after a few minutes to create attractive grill marks. Let cook for a few more minutes, then flip the filet over, finish cooking the fish, and remove to a warmed serving platter. Serve with a few tablespoons of watermelon and sweet corn salsa (recipe follows) spooned over the warm fish. Eat immediately, and enjoy.


  • 6 ears sweet corn on the cob, husked and silks wiped off
  • 2 lbs seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut into 2inch thick slices
  • One quarter cup maple syrup or a few tablespoons honey
  • 1 small red onion, small diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat grill to medium high. Rub some olive oil over the sweet corn on the cob, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Grill, turning as necessary, it will take 5-8 minutes. Add the watermelon and cook for about one minute per side. Remove all from the grill and allow it all to cool enough to handle. Cut the corn from the cobs, and medium dice the watermelon slabs. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and gently mix together. Add a tablespoon of the olive oil to the mixture and stir well. Taste it and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Makes about 4 cups.

Articles by Date from 2012