Are you thinking about trying grouper for the first time? If you’re interested in what it tastes like, then keep reading as we take an in-depth look at this unique looking fish.
Grouper is a salt-water fish, found on the menu in restaurants and within stores throughout the United States. There are three varieties available that vary in flavor and price: red grouper, true black grouper, and gag.
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What does grouper taste like?
Grouper is a mild-tasting, oily fish with a faintly sweet undertone. Compared to other fish, it is one of the mildest with very little taste. Its flavor profile is a cross between a halibut and a bass.
The texture of a grouper is firm with large flakes that easily break apart. A stand-out feature of the fillets is the high levels of moisture. For a mild-tasting fish, it has very high levels of oil, which offers a pleasant buttery mouthfeel. If cooked correctly, the flesh will melt in the mouth.
Summary of grouper
Mild tasting with a faintly sweet undertone
Firm, large flakes
White, once cooked
Red Vs. Black
At the start of this article, we mentioned that there are different varieties of grouper. In the United States, three types are sold for consumption. The most common is the red grouper, which makes up approximately 70% of the grouper production each year.
This variety is a relatively small fish weighing in at 5-15 pounds compared to the black, which weigh 15-20 pounds. The smaller size impacts the taste of the red grouper as it has a milder, sweeter flavor. It is the preferred choice by chefs across the U.S.
The black grouper has a firmer texture and yields more edible fish content than the red variety.
How to pick the freshest grouper
Consider frozen fish
Nothing beats fresh fish; that is unless it’s not so fresh. If you don’t have a reliable source for fresh grouper, consider buying the frozen product. That way, you know it has been frozen when fresh. You can also pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it.
Do a smell test
Smelling is a good option if you’re at a fish market where the fish hasn’t been pre-packaged. Smell the fish. A fresh grouper should have little or no aroma. If you smell fishiness, then leave that fish for someone else.
Do a visual check
Check that the fish looks fresh and that the eyes haven’t glazed over or darkened. If you can do a touch test, give the fish a poke to make a dent in the flesh. It should bounce back to its original shape. If it’s packaged, avoid fish that has liquid or signs of ice on it.
How to Clean a Grouper
Cooking grouper is easier than cooking other lean, mild-tasting fish like walleye or seafood like scallops. Its high levels of oil help it maintain a lovely moist texture even if it’s a little over-cooked. Most cooking methods are suitable for this fish. Pan-frying, deep-frying, baking, blackening (see recipe below), broiled, or steaming are all possible.
Fish sandwiches, chowder, fish casserole, are delicious with the addition of grouper. It’s also tasty eaten on its own, on skewers, with a zesty lemon marinade, a creamy tartare sauce, or a combination of butter, garlic, and lime juice.
The debate for whether grouper is best eaten with batter, crumbed, floured, or with nothing added will always rage on. The best option will come down to personal preference.
How to make blackened grouper
The technique of blackening fish is commonly associated with Cajun cuisine and is also suitable for cooking catfish or red snapper.
Blackening is a quick and straightforward method that produces moist fish encased in a flavor-packed casing. Although blackening is suited to outdoor grilling, you can also cook the fish in the oven or fried in a pan on the hob.
As groupers are a reef-dwelling fish, they have the potential to be contaminated by toxins, which can lead to Ciguatera poisoning. Cooking the fish does won’t destroy these toxins. Your best option is to avoid getting sick is to check with the seller if he fish comes from a hotspot for Ciguatera. Some problem areas include the Caribbean Sea, Hawaii, and coastal Central America. Source.
A gulf grouper is a unique tasting, moist fish that is endemic to Mexico. It has a subtle, sweet flavor with less fishy taste than black grouper or gag. Its texture is dense but easily flakes apart.
Is grouper fishy?
The grouper is one of the mildest tasting fish in the sea with very little taste. It is prized for its moist meat that easily flakes into big chunks once cooked.
Is Grouper considered a white fish?
Grouper is considered to be a white fish, along with haddock, catfish, tilapia, and snapper. These species are considered mild in flavor and quick to cook. They are versatile fish that can be fried, baked, grilled, seared, broiled, or slow-cooked.
Grouper is an excellent choice of fish for those that enjoy mild-tasting fish that’s moist and buttery. It’s relatively high oil content makes it a simple fish to avoid overcooking.
The beauty of grouper has to be its mild, almost bland flavor. It is a blank canvas that allows the creative cook to pair exciting flavors with the fish. Most flavors should work well with grouper – within reason, of course.
If you enjoy fish that isn’t too full of flavor then you might also like to check out our sea bass guide.
What do you think of the taste of grouper? Do you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below.
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