The golden tilefish is a colorful fish with a blue-green back that fades to a pearly white belly. It is touched with red and blue iridescence, highlighted by irregular yellow-gold spots and ocean-blue under the eyes. Combined with these colorful markings is a crest on the head. Tilefish live in burrows and sometimes congregate in pods or small groups at depths ranging from 200 to more than 1,400 feet. As tilefish become larger they tend to live at greater depths. Tilefish do not school, but group in clusters near the heads and sides of submarine canyons along the outer continental shelf. The predominant fishing method is longlining with the greatest catch taken during the daylight hours. Adults weigh an average of 10-25 pounds.
The tilefish is a firm, extra lean white fish, with a mild flavor. It is said that if you like lobster, you will enjoy tilefish. When cooking tilefish the general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness, at the thickest part of the fillet or steak, at 400-450 degrees F. If fish is cooked in parchment, foil or a sauce, add 5 minutes to the total cooking time. Fillets less than 1/2 inch thick do not need to be turned during cooking. The fish cooks quickly so do not overcook. It is done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sautéing, microwaving are all excellent low-fat cooking methods, if you do not add high fat ingredients. Marinate this fish in your favorite salad dressing prior to cooking; broil, bake, steam or microwave, then cube and add to pasta or salad greens for a delicious salad; broil or grill with lime-butter and seasoned salt. If you use the grill, then oil the grill to prevent the fish from sticking. Bake whole fish with a crab or shrimp stuffing, and add any leftover fish in broken pieces to salads, soups or sauces.