The bonefish has long been famous as a challenge to the skill of the salt-water angler. But most fishermen would be astonished to hear that this game fish of legendary fighting qualities makes a most excellent dish for the table. At the George A. Lyon family's Bahamian retreat on the island of North Bimini, stuffed bonefish is a special favorite, served with pride to visitors from the mainland.
George Lyon Jr. is president of Lyon Incorporated of Detroit, makers of stainless steel products, and a sportsman of wide-ranging enthusiasms (including sponsorship of a middleweight boxer of Bimini origin who goes by the euphonious ring name of Yama Bahama). Lyon and his father, the 78-year-old "Commodore," have entertained many of the nation's business leaders at Paradise Point, and many sports figures as well. Sam Snead, a man who seems dogged by luck, was a guest here in 1953 when he caught a world record bonefish on light tackle.
Stuffed bonefish is an invention of the Lyons' Bimini chef, Courtney Johnson. The fresh-caught fish is packed with a mixture of chopped vegetables, bread crumbs and seasonings, then baked in foil, to result in a marvelous contrast in textures. When served, the stuffing is soft, the fine-grained white meat of the fish firm and yet tender—slightly resistant to the tooth. The flavor is as delicate as Dover sole.
STUFFED BONEFISH (9 to 10 pounds)
Scale and clean the fish but do not remove head or tail. To prepare stuffing, combine 1 cup finely chopped celery, 1 cup finely chopped onion,½ cup finely chopped green pepper. Place in a skillet with 3/8 pound butter or margarine. Cook on a slow fire, uncovered, till vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, grate stale bread—half white, half brown bread—to make 2 cups of bread crumbs. Combine with the cooked vegetables, 2 raw eggs, 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and a little sherry, if desired. Stuff fish with this mixture and lace cavity with coarse thread sewn in zigzags.
Lay fish on a large sheet of aluminum foil with¼ pound butter or margarine, cut in thin pieces, placed all over and around the fish. Wrap fish in the foil and rest in a shallow baking pan. Place in preheated 375° oven for 2 hours. Every 10 minutes throughout cooking undo the foil and baste the fish with accumulated juices. Pour one cup of water into bottom of pan and keep replenishing this water as it dries up, so that the foil-wrapped fish rests continually in a small amount of liquid. After the fish has cooked one hour, sprinkle heavily all over with paprika. After another hour, fish is ready to serve.