Island Fishmonger

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Scott and grouper 031616The fish on the dish in Florida is Grouper

We all know the expression "When in Rome…" Well, if you’re reading this article chances are you are in Florida so "When in Florida…” the fish on the dish is Grouper, Snapper and this time of year Stone Crabs are a special treat.

Grouper is Florida's most well-known and popular fish by far. Grouper is low in calories, high in protein and supplies a significant amount of Omega 3 fatty acid that is known to be great for your heart. And it is delicious. Or as we say at Big Water Fish Market…that fish is delish!

The most common Grouper that belongs to the Sea Bass family are available as Red Grouper, Black, Gag, Scamp and some deep water Groupers include The Kitty Mitchell and the Warsaw Grouper. All of the types of Grouper boast of a flavorful and sweet, white, flaky meat, yet very mild at the same time.

Here is a cool little tidbit….did you know that all Groupers are hermaphrodites which means they start out their lives as females than switch to males at maturity. I'm assuming they reproduce in the early stages of their lives.

The months of peak availability for Florida Gulf Groupers are May through November which is considered to be Grouper Season. This time of year, March through April, Grouper costs tend to be a little higher because the Mexican border of the Gulf of Mexico is closed for 30 days to all Grouper fishing. This 2016 season is going to be more difficult as the Mexican Gulf has closed its fishing to all Grouper and Snapper for 60 days to avoid overfishing. That means everyone will be trying to buy Grouper and Snapper from our Florida boarders. With the population of Florida increasing by one million people this month plus the demand for Grouper from the rest of the world; supply and demand comes into effect raising the price of these fish as it does this time of year, every year.

There is some good news though. We respect the labor of our commercial fishermen as they respect you and your wallet. More often than not we will have fresh caught whole Florida Grouper & filets available at a reasonable price from our local commercial fishermen. Since we don’t go through the big distribution companies who sell their frozen product to restaurants and big name grocers, supply can be hit & miss but we will always do our best to keep your cost down while supplying fresh Florida Grouper during this restricted time. Fish markets like Big Water Fish Market have the good stuff. After all, we are the Grouper capital of the world!

Following is a list of a few alternative fish that are a little more cost effective (yet still delish) this time of year.

Amberjack is a great local fish that is one of my favorites. The filets are thick, firm and cook into large white flakes. Usually one of the least expensive fresh fish in the retail fish case and the taste is similar to the great Mahi-Mahi.

Pompano is as local as it gets. It’s usually caught in Sarasota Bay or off the beach. Pompano is a firm, mild fish with a buttery-like flavor.

Mahi-Mahi is a Florida mainstay and is usually reasonably priced year round. The extra lean dark meat is firm textured with a solid flake and moist with a mild sweet flavor.

Corvina – Although usually from the west coast, Corvina is the grouper of California. It is white and flaky like the Grouper and usually a few dollars per pound less expensive. Corvina is a great Grouper substitute. 

Snapper – Although Snapper is well protected and true American Red Snapper season is only open for a few weeks a year in July, there are 17 different types of Snapper that is harvested off the Florida Gulf Coast and could pop up in a retail fish case at any time. Mangrove and Lanes are the most local of the Snappers as Mutton and Caribbean Snappers are deeper water fish. All Snappers have a delicate texture and are similar in taste. The extra lean meat is firm with a moist and sweet flavor.

Below is a simple Grouper recipe that will entice every fish lover in your crowd.

Broiled Honey Orange Glazed Florida Grouper

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon deli dust (only found at Big Water Fish Market) or season to taste
  • 1 pound Grouper filets

Preheat broiler. Combine all ingredients except Grouper, mixing well. Place filets on an oiled broiler sheet pan. Then brush fish filets with your Honey Glaze mixture. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes. Filets should be browned on one side. Brush fish again then turn over and broil for another 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Serve with rice or veggies & enjoy.

Live well…Eat Fish!

Scott Dolan
Big Water Fish Market
6641 Midnight Pass Rd.
Siesta Key, FL  34242

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