Florida Seafood Products
At Florida seafood restaurants, grouper is always on the menu. Though supply peaks in the warm months, from April to October, it’s available all year round. And that’s a good thing, because grouper is one of Florida’s most popular fish. The flavor is so mild and subtle, it appeals to just about everybody.
All groupers are members of the seabass family, Serranidae, which is made up of more than 400 species. Groupers are found around coral reefs and rock outcroppings in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide. Two genera of groupers are harvested in Florida: Mycteroperca and Epinephelus. Red grouper (Epinephelus morio) and gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) are the groupers harvested in volume and most readily available in seafood markets. Black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci), scamp (Mycteroperca phenax), snowy grouper (Epinephelus niveatus), and yellow-edge grouper (Epinephelus flavolimbatus) are also available but are harvested in smaller volumes.
Groupers vary in size and weight but are commonly marketed at five to 20 pounds. Florida harvests over 85 percent of all the grouper landed in the United States, and over 75 percent of Florida grouper is landed in Pinellas County. The preferred harvest method is hook-and-line fishing. Commercial fishermen receive a premium price for grouper.
Because of grouper’s relatively high price, it is often a target for substitution. Be wary of grouper prices that are suspiciously low; a low price likely means the fish is not grouper but is instead a less expensive substitute species, most likely Asian catfish. Mislabeling seafood products is against the law, and consumers are cheated when they pay for an expensive fish but receive one of lesser value. If you suspect the grouper you purchased is not the real thing, you can report the problem by contacting the Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing at (850) 617-7280.
The best way to protect yourself from substitutions is to know your grouper. Grouper is a lean, firm, white-fleshed fish with a meaty texture and large flake. The flesh contains no intramuscular bones, and the flavor is almost chicken-like, with very little fishy taste.
When shopping for fresh grouper, look for firm fish with a fresh sea-breeze aroma. Fresh whole fish should have a shiny surface with tightly adhering scales, gills that are deep red or pink, and a clean, shiny belly cavity with no cuts or protruding bones. Fresh steaks and fillets should be firm and translucent-looking, with no discoloration.
Purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home. You can store fresh fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to two days. Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to prevent bacterial cross-contamination. After handling raw seafood, thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges, and hands with soapy water.
Versatile grouper lends itself well to any form of cooking, including grilling, baking, poaching, steaming, broiling, sautéing, deep frying, and pan frying. One of the most popular ways to eat grouper is in a sandwich. The fish is typically breaded and fried and served on a bun with lettuce, sliced tomato, and tartar sauce.
Grouper has tough, strong-tasting skin that should be removed during cleaning. Cook grouper at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If the fish is cooked in parchment, foil, or a sauce, add five minutes to the total cooking time. Fish cooks quickly, so be careful not to overcook it. It’s done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Grouper is high in protein and low in fat. A four-ounce serving contains 110 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 23 grams of protein.
More About Grouper
- DACS-P-01421 Grouper Recipes Brochure, English (PDF)
- DACS-P-01414 Florida Seafood Healthy Facts Brochure (PDF)
- DACS-P-01549 Florida Seafood Buying Guide (PDF)
Contact Us About Seafood Products
Division of Marketing and Development
Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing
The Collins Building, Innovation Park
2051 East Dirac Drive
Tallahassee, Florida 32310
(850) 617-7281 Fax