Are Tripletail Fish Good To Eat? They Are Phenomenal!

Tripletail fish are a unique species of inshore saltwater fish found through the Gulf Of Mexico and the Southeastern Atlantic ocean.

Seasoned anglers are familiar with this fish, often found floating under buoys, weedlines, and other debris…but how do they taste?

Are Tripletail fish good to eat?

In this article, I’ll explain why some anglers pass on the grouper and snapper and instead prefer the delicious and wonderful flavors of the tripletail…yep, they’re that good!

Table of Contents

Can You Eat Tripletail Fish?

Tripletail are a highly desired fish, known for their dense white meat. The fillets are thick, but delicate and best prepared baked, sauteed, or fried with minimal seasoning. Many anglers prefer the taste and texture of tripletail over more notable fish like snapper or grouper.

The flesh of tripletail fish is white and firm, developing a pleasant flakey texture when cooked. 

In the old days, when anglers saw a tripletail floating motionless under the surface, they thought the fish was dead or injured and that the meat would be harmful, so for a long time, people avoided eating tripletail fish. 

What a mistake! Tripletail are not only great fun to sight fish and catch, but they can grow up to 40 pounds in size and make for a delicious meal.

Are Tripletail Fish Good To Eat?

How Does Tripletail Fish Taste?

Tripletail fish is delicious, with a sweet, mildly fishy, delicate flavor. The taste of tripletail fish is similar to grouper or red snapper in both flavor and texture, but with a much dense profile.

The meat is firm and flakey. It is suitable to be eaten raw, though is best prepared sautéed or baked with minimal seasoning, being careful not to overcook it.

Is it Safe to Eat Tripletail Fish?

Tripletail is a saltwater fish that eats other fish, so as you might expect there is some accumulation of mercury and other heavy metals. Tripletail fish is not a particularly large fish, so mercury levels are not concerningly high.

Tripletail fish is safe to eat. Most tripletail fish will have mercury levels below the recommended acceptable level of 0.5 ppm.

You should still be mindful, though, about how often you eat any larger oceanic fish to avoid a build-up of mercury in your body. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a sensitivity to mercury, you should limit your consumption or avoid eating tripletail fish.

Is Tripletail Fish Healthy?

Tripletail fish is a super healthy source of protein, good fats, and micronutrients. Per 100 g of raw tripletail fish, there is about 

  • 98 kcal
  • 18 g of protein
  • 2.3 g of fat, with no saturated fat
  • 0 g of carbohydrates

Tripletail fish is also an excellent source of micronutrients like vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and much more.

How to Prepare and Store Tripletail After Catching it?

As with any large fish, the flavor of the meat will be affected by how you store and prepare it after catching it.

You can try to keep it alive in a bucket of water until you can process it at home.

Even better, though, is to kill it quickly with a spike to the brain, sever one of the main arteries to let it bleed out, and store it in an icy brine for a few hours before cooking. This will give the meat the best flavor.

How to Identify Tripletail Fish

Tripletail fish have a pretty unique appearance, highlighted by their long, set-back dorsal and anal fins that make it look like they have three tails. Tripletail can grow up to 35 inches long and up to 40 lbs. 

Young tripletails are colored with yellow, brown, and black spots or smears, with white pectoral fins. Adult tripletails are black with mottled brown or dark red color patterns, often with a grayish tint.

They have a relatively flat body shape and like to hang out sideways at the surface of the water, making them easy to mistake for a large leaf or seaweed.

The Atlantic tripletail is the species most common in the US. It is found all along the Atlantic coast but particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

Be mindful when handling the tripletail if you catch one as they have sharp projections along their gills that can do serious damage to your hands

How to Prepare Tripletail Fish

Tripletail fish can be eaten raw or cooked in any fashion you want. It takes well to frying, grilling, or smoking, though it is particularly tasty baked.

After you catch your tripletail, you should try to prepare or store it immediately. If not stored correctly, the fish can easily become rancid!

Common Flavor Pairings

The mild, sweet taste of the tripletail makes it a particularly versatile fish, pairing well with a wide variety of flavor profiles. 

The meat itself tastes delicious on its own, so it doesn’t need any heavy seasoning like some other fish. Simple, light, tart sauces and flavor pairings work particularly well with this fish.

Tripletail is a great fish to experiment with in the kitchen, but if you are looking for some ideas, here are some flavor pairings to consider:

  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Lime
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Leek
  • Mushroom
  • Squash
  • Tomato

Final Thoughts

The tripletail fish is a great example of how looks can be deceiving. Tripletail fish is more than good to eat, it is one of the tastier fish in the sea.

Prepare it however you want, ideally with simple seasonings to appreciate the sweet, delicate flavor of the meat. 

Thanks for reading!

Growing up in Florida, I’ve been surrounded by saltwater my entire life…and I love sharing my passion with others.

To learn more about why I started Saltwater Mecca, visit the ABOUT page.

Thank you for reading this article. Browse around & have some fun!