Spicy Smoked Dolphin

Deemed by many as the “Chicken of the Sea,” dolphinfish fillets are hard to beat. The noticeable lack of “fishiness” allows for the true, mild flavor of the fish to shine through. This dish finds a near-perfect balance of spicy, sweet, and savory with all components collaborating in perfect harmony. The serrano works with the cedar to create an unforgettably bold bite while the cilantro and lime work together to cut the heat of the pepper.

Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Total Time: 1 hr


  • 4 medium-size dolphin fillets 
  • Wood plank of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of cilantro 
  • 4 Key limes (for zest and juice)
  • 4 medium-size serrano peppers

When smoking fish, your choice of wood is very important. I chose cedar, as it’s a perfect accent to the natural flavors of the fish. Apple, cherry or hickory wood will do just fine as well. Start things off with your choice of fillet. Fresh dolphin is your best bet, but store-bought frozen fillets work here, too. Fresh fish should be chilled in the fridge for one hour before preparation. If starting from frozen, begin the process immediately once your fillet has thawed. 

It’s important to completely soak your planks in room-temperature water. When wet, your plank will produce far more smoke and allow for a more consistent taste. Furthermore, it won’t catch fire on the grill. After an hour of soaking your wood, heat your grill and begin to prepare your fish. 

Start by slathering olive oil on all sides of your fillet. Next, add salt and pepper to taste. Cilantro has a bold flavor and thus should be added conservatively. Add about a quarter cup of minced cilantro to each fillet before adding the zest of one lime to accentuate the flavor of the cilantro. Lastly, thinly slice your serrano peppers and place them atop the fish.

Finally, place your seasoned fillet on the soaked plank. Allow the fillets to smoke at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Cook time will depend on the thickness of the fillets. It’s important you do not overcook the fish. You’ll know the fish is cooked when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the fillet reaches 145°F for at least 5 minutes.   ζ