Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scorpion Fish - Sous Vide

Scorpionfish are a family of fish with hundreds of members that have sharp spines coated with venemous mucus. Members include the lionfish, stonefish, firefish, turkeyfish, dragonfish and stingfish. They generally have one or two spines on the operculum, the hard flap covering the gills, a dorsal fin with 11 to 17 spines, and pectoral fins with 11 to 25 rays. The dorsal, anal and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases.  
This scorpionfish is an armed demon. 
Its head is ugly, hard and spiky.
I got a scorpionfish from Anshu Pathak at Exotic Meat Market. I have no idea what particular species of scorpionfish it was, but it was pretty gnarly. The fish was gutted, but it still had all sorts of spines all over it. I assumed the poisonous spines had been removed, or that the poison had become inert, but I was still cautious in removing the spines to avoid any pricks that might cause any problems. The head was armored like a tank, with tiny spines all over it, so I just removed it completely. The dorsal spines were connected to a hard, bony ridge and I dug into the fish and removed the spines and ridges completely. This fish is really decked out as a defensive demon. I've never seen anything with so many spines. 
A photo of the entire body, but without all of the impressive spines flaring out. 
We went to an oriental market a day or two before and bought some Thai chilies. I decided that the Thai chilies might make a sauce that would go well with a mild white fish which I assumed the scorpionfish would be. I cut the Thai chilies into small segments and then fried them in avocado oil for about ten minutes to soften them up, then added some olive oil and salt to make a flavored oil. 
Thai chilies.
Cut into small segments and then fried in oil for about ten minutes. 
Extra olive oil was added to make a flavored oil mixture to go on the fish, as well as other uses.
After removing all of the spines of the fish and the head, I cut the body into two pieces, down the spine. I covered the pieces with butter and a nice sprinkling of the flavored oil and put them into vacuum-sealed pouches to sous vide them. I cooked them in the sous vide at 52 centigrade for 25 minutes. They came out perfectly. 
The body of the fish after all of the spines, fins and head were removed. 
A look at the inside, before severing it into two pieces at the spine.
The two pieces of fish covered in butter and Thai chilie flavored oil. 
The flesh had the consistency of lobster meat and the butter and flavored oil added a very nice element to the mild fish. The flesh came away from the skin easily, and the meat was also easily removed from the bones, so it was very easy to eat. 
The fish after removal from the plastic pouch after sous vide cooking. The butter and flavored oils have nicely seasoned the fish and act as a nice broth, along with the fish juices. 
The nice white flesh separated easily from the skin.
It ended up being quite delicious. 

I'm not usually a big fish fan. I have had a hard time in the past getting it to come out right. But the sous vide has made fish much easier to prepare. The constant temperature makes it so I can cook it just right. It is much more foregiving. 


  1. That is one scary looking fish! I do believe the sous vide is magical.

  2. Wouldn't want to encounter that fish in a dark kelp bed!

  3. The texture-flavor combination was still a little weird for me, but I agree--the sous vide probably made this dish.