How to Cook Bonito Fish

Bonito fish is part of the Scombridae family that includes mackerel and tuna. Similar to tuna in texture and color, it is often considered less desirable because it is oilier and has a stronger tasting flesh. But bonito tends to be less expensive than bluefin or ahi tuna and is still quite high in protein, low in fat and rich in vitamin D, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. A 4-ounce serving has about 145 calories and 25 grams of protein. The key to creating a tastier piece of bonito is to remove the brown blood line that runs throughout the body. Bonito fish can be prepared in a variety of healthy ways including; grilled, baked, or pan-fried.

A grilled fish fillet. (Image: jatrax/iStock/Getty Images)

Grilled to Perfection

Step 1

Clean and gut a whole bonito fish, taking out the bones and removing the blood line. Slice the fish into steaks for easier handling and cooking. Rinse the fish and pat it dry.

Step 2

Create a spicy fish rub by mixing together chipotle chilies, crushed garlic, Mexican oregano, salt, lime juice and olive oil. Combine the ingredients to form a paste.

Step 3

Place the fish into a glass dish and rub with the chipotle mixture. Cover the dish and place it into the refrigerator. Allow the fish to marinate for at least an hour.

Step 4

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grill grates to prevent the fish from sticking to it.

Step 5

Cook the fish over direct heat for about 3 minutes, until the flesh begins to char. Flip the fish over and cook an additional minute so that it is still slightly pink inside for medium-rare. Cook the fish 3 minutes longer for medium-done. Serve the grilled bonito garnished with lime wedges.

Deliciously Baked

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together olive oil and lemon juice. Brush the fish with the lemon mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Place the fish into a greased baking dish. Cook the fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Step 3

Test the fish for doneness by making a small slit in the thickest part of the fillet or steak-- insuring that the flesh is opaque though still slightly pink and juicy. Serve the baked bonito garnished with lemon wedges.

Healthy Pan-Fried

Step 1

Mix together soy sauce, orange juice, ground ginger, salt and pepper. Place the fish into a glass dish and brush with half of the mixture; reserving the other half to serve with the cooked bonito. Allow the fish to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Add olive oil to a heavy skillet. Heat the pan on the stove to medium high heat. Place the fish into the hot pan.

Step 3

Cook the fish for 3 minutes until it is lightly seared on one side. Flip the fish over and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the outside is slightly golden and the flesh is still pink. Serve the fish with the remainder of the marinade to use as a dipping sauce.

Things You'll Need

  • Bonito fish

  • Glass baking dish

  • Olive oil

  • Limes

  • Oregano

  • Chipotle chilies

  • Garlic

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Lemons

  • Soy sauce

  • Orange juice

  • Ground ginger

  • Heavy skillet


Slice cooked bonito to use for healthy fish tacos. Top a whole wheat tortilla with shredded cabbage, tomato salsa and the fish. Serve garnished with a dollop of light sour cream and lime wedges.

Bonito is a good choice for fish stew as its hearty flesh will hold up and stay in tact when cooked for a longer period of time.


According to the National Resources Defense Council; bonito fish may have moderate amounts of mercury and recommends eating less than 6 servings a month of this type of fish.

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