Grilled Redfish on the Half Shell

This Grilled 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.

Grilled 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.

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.

🔪 Step-By-Step 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.
A food processor with shallot, cilantro, and garlic before processing.
  • Purée – Add cilantro, shallot, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor along with 1/2 cup of water.
The shallot, cilantro, and garlic in the food processor after it processed.
  • Purée/pulse until very finely minced.
A strainer with the cilantro/shallot/garlic purée to remove moisture.
  • Strain – Remove moisture from the cilantro mixture by pressing gently over a strainer.
Mayonnaise, lime zest, and cilantro/shallot/garlic before mixing in a red bowl.
  • Add – Add the cilantro mixture in with the mayonnaise and lime zest.
The well-mixed cilantro-mayonnaise mixture after it is finished.
  • Combine – Thoroughly combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
The cilantro-mayonnaise mixture spread over the top of the fish on the half shell.
  • Prepare the fish – Prepare the redfish (or similar) by generously covering the filleted side with the cilantro mayonnaise. NOTE: I grilled the lime I zested and another one alongside the fish. Squeezed grilled lime juice is great on the grilled fish.
A hot gas grill with the redfish fillet before it is cooked and 4 lime halves.
  • Grill – Lay the fish on the grill with the fat side of the fillet over the hottest part of the preheated grill. If baking the fish instead of grilling, leave on the baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven.
The grilled redfish on the half shell with mayonnaise before it is removed from the hot grill.
  • Let the fish grill/bake undisturbed until the meat is fully cooked; it will just begin to flake when that happens. I chose a smaller fillet for the two of us, and it cooked in about 10 minutes. Plan on 10-20 minutes depending on size.
  • 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.

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.

❓ FAQ

What does redfish taste like?

Redfish has a mild and sweet flavor, and a medium-firm texture. When raw, the flesh looks off-white, but it turns white once cooked. It has a smooth, firm text that is perfect for most recipes, but especially good for grilling. The flavor reminds me of red snapper, and we have caught both.

What other kinds of fish work well for “fish on the half shell?”

Sturdy, large fish with tough scales like 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.

Is the fish good left over?

I don’t think so. I will, on occasion, use it in fish cakes.

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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!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A copper tray with a filleted and grilled redfish on the half shell with cilantro and grilled lime.

Redfish on the Half Shell Recipe

A redfish fillet is slathered with a fresh cilantro and lime mayonnaise before being grilled "on the half shell"… Delicioso!
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican/Southwest
Servings 4 servings
Calories 285 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 pounds redfish - filleted with skin and scales intact
  • 2 shallots - cut in chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 lime zest only - save lime for the grill

Instructions

  • Preheat a grill at medium-high heat. Lay the redfish fillet(s) skin side down, on a baking sheet.
  • Add cilantro, shallot, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor along with ½ cup of water. Purée/pulse until very finely minced.
  • Remove moisture from the cilantro mixture by pressing gently over a strainer.
  • Add the cilantro mixture in with the mayonnaise and lime zest. Thoroughly combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Prepare the redfish (or similar) by generously covering the filleted side with the cilantro mayonnaise. Lay the fish on the grill with the fat side of the fillet over the hottest part of the preheated grill.
  • Let the fish grill/bake undisturbed until the meat is fully cooked; it will just begin to flake when that happens.
  • When the fish is done, gently remove it with a large spatula, or two spatulas if you need to. Serve as desired.

Notes

NOTE: See the body of the post “Instructions” section if you prefer to bake the redfish.

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 18g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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