Grouper is a mild, sweet fish that belongs to the sea bass family. It is a salt water fish that can become quite large. It is a locally caught fish where I live and grouper sandwiches are very popular here.
Due to their preferred habitat around coral reefs, groupers are accessible primarily by hook-and-line fishing. In my local area, the harvesting of grouper is closely monitored and regulated to ensure healthy stocks as a naturally renewable and sustainable resource.
In many parts of the world, grouper fisheries are depleted. One reason for this is their unusual mating ritual, where mature fish come together to spawn in huge numbers and that makes them easy targets for destructive fishing practices. This situation removes many reproducing fish and challenges the recovery of their populations.
Red and black grouper from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico are no longer over fished. Management techniques supported by EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) show enormous promise for bringing our seas back from unhealthy environments. Under an innovative fishing model known as catch shares, fishermen have an economic incentive to help the fishery recover. They get a share of the allowed catch, which grows larger as the fishery recovers.
Grouper is also a healthy menu choice. Six ounces of uncooked grouper has only 165 calories and 3 grams of fat (none of which is saturated). It can be cooked in a variety of ways since it is a firm fish that holds up to various cooking methods, including cooking it on the grill. Since grouper is a lean fish, however, it benefits from basting with a flavorful sauce while grilling.
Herb Infused Fish Fillets
Since I cook for two most days, I made half the amount listed in the recipe below. You can also use any firm white fish fillets that are available in your area.
- 1 1/2 lbs grouper fillets (or other firm white fish) 3/4 to 1 inch thick
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 8 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the fish fillets and and pat dry with paper towels.
Lightly salt both sides of the fish and set aside until the grill is ready
Heat the grill to medium-high.
Cut off a piece of heavy-duty aluminium foil large enough to accommodate the fish on the grill. Poke several holes through the foil, spray with olive oil cooking spray and make a base on the foil for the fish with the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.
In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.
Place the fish on top of the herb branches, brush the fish with the lemon mixture.
Place the foil with the fish on it on the grill over direct heat and close the cover. Grill for 6 minutes, brush the fish with the lemon mixture again and sprinkle with the minced oregano leaves.
Close the grill cover and cook for about 6 more minutes more or until the fish flakes when poked with a fork in the thickest part.
Grind fresh black pepper over the fish before serving.
Roasted Corn and Peppers
I served the grilled grouper for dinner with this side dish.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine the olive oil with the peppers, corn, onion and the salt and pepper in a baking dish.
Roast the mixture in the oven until the corn and peppers start to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring twice.
Grilled Grouper Sandwich
If you would like to turn this grilled grouper into one of Florida’s best dishes, here is how to do it.
For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 2 medium green onions, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 ½ teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
For the sandwich:
- 4 grouper fillets, about 1 inch thick (5-6 oz each), cooked according to the recipe above.
- 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
- 4 leaves green leaf lettuce
In a small bowl, stir mayonnaise, onions, relish, capers, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce with a whisk until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
On each bun bottom, place lettuce and a grilled grouper fillet. Spoon some sauce evenly over the fish. Cover with a bun top and serve.
Caesar Salad Topped with Grilled Grouper
You can also turn this grilled grouper into a great salad, another favorite in my region.
- 4 grouper fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick (6 oz each), cooked according to the recipe above.
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 3 large garlic cloves, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3 cups of firm country bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Large head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the croutons:
Whisk 1/4 cup of the oil, 2 of the garlic cloves, minced and coarse salt in large bowl to blend. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Transfer croutons to a baking sheet.
Bake croutons until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
For the dressing:
Combine the 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, anchovies, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1 garlic clove in a blender and puree until smooth.
Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
For the salad:
Place lettuce and croutons in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Place the lettuce and croutons onto 4 individual serving plates and place one grilled grouper fillet on top of each salad.
Sprinkle each with additional Parmesan cheese.
Tips on grilling fish:
- A hot fire is key. You want to cook seafood quickly to retain the natural juices and flavor.
- A clean grill rack is equally important. Fish will stick to a dirty rack and make turning the fish difficult.
- Oil the rack when the barbecue grill is hot, just before you’re ready to cook. Also, oil the fish whenever possible. Use a high-temperature oil, such as grape seed, peanut or plain olive oil.
- Skin side up or down? Conventional wisdom says to cook the skin side first, but doing the opposite gives a nicer, crusted surface on the non-skin side and the skin helps the fillet hold together for turning. The result is a moist, more appealing fillet.
- Fish will hold together better and be less likely to stick if you leave it alone during grilling. Cook it for the estimated time, then try lifting it carefully. If it pulls away easily, it is ready to turn.
- A wide, thin spatula is essential for turning and removing fish from the grill.
- If you’re grilling thin fillets, you can place them in a double-sided, long-handled grilling rack used for hamburgers and steaks. There are also specially shaped ones made for grilling whole fish.
- A good rule of thumb is to grill fish for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness (measured at the thickest point.) So if you have a half-inch thick fillet, grill it for about 3 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Avoid sugary marinades or glazes, especially with thick fillets or whole fish, as the sugars can burn and turn bitter before the fish is fully cooked.
- As with other methods, fish is fully cooked when it begins to flake and is opaque at the center. Some fish, like salmon and tuna, are often served while still somewhat ‘rare’, like steak.
- Tuna, salmon, swordfish, halibut, mahi mahi, barramundi, trout, mackerel, yellowtail and sea bass are some of the best fish to grill.
When most of us think of swordfish, we think…well, isn’t it endangered? The answer — at least for American swordfish — is no. It is true that swordfish stocks were hurt in the 1980s and early 1990s, but a nationwide movement to give swordfish a break worked. Now, North Atlantic stocks are on the rebound and environmental watchdog groups list them as a “good alternative.”
Grilled Swordfish With Caponata
Swordfish is made for the grill. It is firm, like steak, and many non-fish eaters will readily eat swordfish over other types of fish. Its texture also helps prevent the steaks from falling apart on the grill, a huge plus. Note: Halibut steaks or firm white fish fillets, such as red snapper, tilapia, cod or orange roughy, can be used in place of swordfish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 swordfish steaks (see note above)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 each Italian frying pepper and orange and yellow bell peppers
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled or unpeeled according to taste
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
Mix ingredients in a large ziptop bag. Add fish, seal; turn to coat. Leave at room temperature while preparing the caponata.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers; sauté 2 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds and add eggplant, cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in marinara sauce, cover; reduce heat and simmer, stirring twice, 12 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender.
Add vinegar and capers to the caponata. Cover and simmer 5 minutes to develop flavors.
Meanwhile, heat an outdoor grill or a stove-top ridged grill pan. Remove fish from the bag; discard bag with the marinade.
Grill fish 4 to 6 inches from the heat source on an outdoor grill or in a grill pan, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.
Serve fish over the caponata.
Healthy sides to go with your delicious grilled fish.
Spinach & Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes
- 4 large vine-ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Heat the oven to 450°F.
Rub the inside of a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil and set aside.
Using a serrated knife, cut off the top fourth of each tomato and discard the tops. Cut 1/8th off the bottom of each tomato, so that they’ll sit upright in the baking dish; discard bottoms.
Using a small spoon (a grapefruit spoon works the best), scoop out the seeds and pulp from each tomato and discard. Sprinkle the insides of each tomato with a little salt. Place the tomatoes upside down on a plate layered with paper towels and let them sit for 30 minutes to extract excess tomato juice, which may make the filling soggy.
Heat the remaining oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and yellow pepper and cook 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and Italian seasoning. Cook 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in rice, salt and lemon rind. Cook 4 minutes or until heated through.
Spoon rice mixture into the tomatoes and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Braised Spring Vegetables
- 1 spring onion or 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth or water
- 8 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
- 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound of peas in the pod) or frozen peas (thawed)
- 1/2 head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
In heavy 12-inch skillet, combine spring onion, garlic, oil and broth; heat to simmering on medium heat. Cover; cook about 2 minutes, or until onion softens slightly.
Add asparagus, sugar snap peas and peas and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until beans and peas are heated through. Add escarole and basil; sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until escarole wilts and asparagus is crisp-tender.
Stir in lemon peel and juice. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with chives and grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Spaghettini with Lemon and Ricotta
- 12 oz spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
- 3/4 cup good-quality fresh whole-milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons
Heat a large saucepan of salted water to boiling on high. Add spaghettini; cook 6 minutes or until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix ricotta, oil and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Finely grate the peel of 1 lemon and stir it into ricotta. Season with kosher salt.
Add cooked spaghettini to ricotta mixture; stir well, adding reserved cooking water, if needed to make a sauce that coats the pasta. Season to taste.
Divide pasta among 4 plates. Finely grate the peel of the remaining lemon over the pasta and serve.
Tomato & Fennel Salad
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pound tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool
Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until combined.
Add tomatoes, fennel, parsley and pine nuts; toss to coat. Serve.
Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Anchovies
- 2 pounds broccoli rabe, stem ends trimmed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot or Dutch oven of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until the garlic is very light brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the broccoli rabe, toss to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.