For decades I enjoyed bluegill fillets fried, baked and in fish chowder. Even though they are small they are still tasty and enjoyable.
Then one day I found out about using those small fillets as a substitute for shrimp cocktail.
Bluegill are perfect for this. Their fillets are usually small anyway.
You could probably use other fish fillets for this recipe but why would you want to cut a bigger fillet, like for instance a walleye or perch, into little pieces when they are better left intact for a main meal or really good fish sandwich.
There is nothing fancy that needs to be done to make a bluegill fillet substitute for shrimp.
However, knowing how to fillet a bluegill would be a good skill.
The fillets, or pieces of fillets, are boiled 'briefly' and, immediately after, chilled 'quickly' in ice.
After a good chilling in ice they are removed and served with cocktail sauce, or whatever you normally use for shrimp cocktail.
You will truly be surprised on how great they are. And if you are like me there will always be some portion of your bluegill fillets put aside for this dish.
Colender or large slotted spoon
Ice cubes ( preferably crushed ice ) but regular ice cubes will do.
Sauce for dipping.
First order of business is to get the fillets.
If you don't know how to fillet the bluegills then here is a tutorial for that.
Once the fillets are removed from the fish and cleaned up we want to cut them into small pieces so the size is similar to what a shrimp would be.
Get all the bluegill fillets ready for boiling.
Put all the pieces of fillet into boiling water. Of course when you add them the water will stop boiling for a bit.
All the fillets are dropped into boiling water, which stops boiling for a bit until temperature recovers.
When the water returns to a boil it's time to start timing it for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Once the fillets start to boil again keep track of the time. You will want to boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
While the water is a boiling real good get a bowl of ice ready to receive the fillets when done.
A bowl of ice waiting for the arrival of boiled fillets.
When the time is up remove the pot from heat and remove all the fillets to a strainer or use a slotted spoon to remove them from water and put them directly on ice.
Bluegill fillets removed from the boiling water via a slotted spoon and placed on ice.
Cover the fillets with more ice and put the bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool off the fillet pieces down quickly.
After all the fillets are on ice, and covered with ice, put the bowl into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
After thoroughly cooled off remove them from the ice and serve cold with cocktail sauce.