If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a Southern Californian grunion run, you more than likely have a bucket of freshly caught fish that are ready to cook up. To ensure that you get the most out of your catch, we’ve gathered some of the best grunion recipes right here to share. Before cooking the grunion, be sure to clean each fish, removing the heads, tails, and innards. Bone removal is optional.
See this year’s grunion run schedule.
For some true So-Cal cuisine, try whipping up some grunion tacos. Cut the meat into fillets, dress them lightly in oil, then set them in an oven dish. Seasoning them can be done in two ways: with a blend of lime juice, cumin, and chili powder, or by covering them in a chili sauce. Bake the grunion at 300ºF for 10 to 15 minutes.
Like most fish tacos, grunion tacos can be topped well with a variety of ingredients, including avocados, red cabbage, cilantro, and onions.
The classic way to cook grunion, grilling is simple but does much to enhance the fish’s natural flavor. Grilling can be done over an open flame, or in a foil packet.
If you opt for the open-flame, dress the fish in oil and put them over a high fire. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and serve. You’ll get a rich, smoky flavor perfect for summer dining.
To grill the fish in foil packets, coat them in oil and place them on foil. Add other ingredients as you like (onions, thyme, bell peppers, lemon wedges, etc.), and fold the packets so that the seams face up and no juices will drip. Place the packets on the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. This method preserves the most moisture in the fish.
Grunion Fish Sauce
If you’ve got grunion to spare, enjoy their flavor when the season’s long over by creating a fish sauce out of them. Making the sauce is easy, but it is a long process.
Cut 1.5 lbs of fish into small pieces. Place them into a jar and mash. The sauce can be made with only the fish, or with seasonings such as black peppercorns, lemon zest, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. If you choose to add seasonings, put them in after mashing the fish. Then add 3 tbsp of sea salt and 2 tbsp of whey or pickle brine. Fill the rest of the jar with water and mix well.
Keep the jar on your counter for up to 3 months, opening it outside every few days to relieve the pressure built up by the fermentation process. Store in your fridge for 1 to 3 more months. After that strain it with cheesecloth and coffee filters to remove the solids. The remaining liquid is your ready fish sauce, which will stay fresh for several months.