The flavor is generally sweet, with the red grouper being a bit sweeter than black grouper. All grouper species are considered by chefs to have an ideal flavor for a number of dishes and preparation styles.
The dominant characteristic that makes grouper ’s food quality so high is its oil and moisture content. Compared to most other mild-tasting types of fish, grouper has a much higher oil and moisture content.
Grouper meat has a unique texture when compared to most other commonly eaten fish. High oil and moisture content keeps the large flakes firm, yet still tender.
Buttery, smooth, firm, and tender would be the best way to sum up grouper ’s texture in a few words. In our opinion, the variation between group species is small, but still notable enough to warrant some attention.
In fact, about 70% of the entire American grouper harvest is made up of red grouper. Truthfully, all but the most experienced seafood pros can tell the difference between red grouper and black grouper once the skin has been removed.
You’ll commonly see gag lumped in with black in the seafood market due to its very similar flavor and texture. The vast majority of what you’ll find in restaurants or stores will be a variety of red, black, and gag grouper.
Black grouper have an especially high meat yield in relation to their weight. Grouper ribs are large, making this process fairly simple.
You’ll find a fleshy area that runs from right in front of the gill to right next to the grouper ’s eye, following along the line of the mouth. Once you make it to the area next the grouper ’s eye, simply flip the cheek out and peel it off of the remaining attached skin.
Overcooking is definitely possible, but it’s much less common than it is when dealing with flakier, drier fish like snapper or sole. Grouper sandwiches are one of the most well-liked seafood staples in coastal areas and are always a good choice.
The immense popularity of grouper makes it extremely easy to find endless recipes in cookbooks and all across the web. If you’re an adventurous chef, the forgiving nature of grouper meat makes it an ideal choice for trying out new recipes and seafood creations.
If you’ve made it this far, you know just about everything you need to confidently order grouper at a restaurant or prepare it yourself at home. It really is one of the tastiest fish on the menu and I’ve known of plenty of seafood skeptics who still enjoy a good grouper filet.
“Adult gag grouper live in nearshore waters from coastal North Carolina south to Brazil and as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. Smaller gag are a lot of lighter in coloring, and have numerous dark brown, or charcoal, kiss- like marks along their sides.
“Adult gag grouper, live over on top of low- and high-profile hard bottom such as reefs or shipwrecks in waters between 60-250 feet deep,” said McLean Seward, fisheries biologist with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. “Young gag grouper will live in oyster reefs, estuaries and seagrass beds from Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The coloration of red grouper helps to distinguish this species from gag with its head and body being dark reddish brown, shading pink or reddish or even pale pink along the lower part of its body,” Nash said. “In North Carolina, gag will typically spawn in February and have clear larvae, which then make their way into estuaries.
As water temperatures start to go down in the fall, juvenile gag will migrate from estuaries to offshore hard bottom habitat and larger members of their species,” said Seward. Seward noted that all grouper are considered protogynous intersex, “that is they start their lives as females, and a part of the population will morph, or make the change, to males as they get older.
Females start to reach sexual maturity when they are about 24 inches in total length and about 3 years old. They are voracious predators, and will feed on whatever they can capture including scad, snapper, grunt, sardines, crabs, porgies, shrimp and squid, said Seward.
Red grouper sitting on sand habitat 45 degrees to camera full body view mouth open. In addition to their color, redgroupercan be distinguished from gag by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin.
“The red grouper is also a protogynous intersex and females are sexually mature by the time they reach 4 years old,” Seward said. Females typically will let go an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that stay at the surface for between 30-40 days before finally settling down to the bottom.
“ Red grouper may live to be as old as 25 years of age, with older specimens reaching a size of 32.5 inches and up to 25 pounds. They will feed on lobster, shrimp, octopus, crabs and fish that are found close to their preferred reef habitat,” Seward said.
Bottom fishing is the best way to catch gag grouper, using live bait, including squid and cigar minnows. Use a depth finder to find deep-water rock ledges, artificial reefs and shipwrecks, a gag grouper ’s favorite hiding place.
Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for the snapper grouper species. “This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed and sold before the annual catch limit is reached and held in cold storage by a dealer,” said North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Assistant to Councils Steve Poland, who is also a representative with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Charter and head boat and commercial snapper grouper vessels must have National Marine Fisheries Service-approved sea turtle release gear and adhere to small tooth saw fish release protocol, Poland added. While populations of gag grouper have remained healthy, a 10-year effort to rebuild the red grouper stock has failed, leading to new, stricter rules and regulations taking effect this year.
Therefore, on Sept. 27, 2017, NFS sent a letter to the council stating that the South Atlantic red grouper stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding. So, NFS took steps in 2018 to immediately end overfishing of red grouper by reducing the total commercial and recreational annual catch limits, based on the acceptable biological catch recommendation from the council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee.
“For red grouper, this final rule extends the closure season formerly from January to April, to January through May of each year for the next ten years for the commercial and recreational portions off North and South Carolina, and establishes a commercial trip limit,” said Poland. This final rule establishes a commercial trip limit for red grouper harvested in the South Atlantic EEA of 200 pounds, gutted weight.
The trip limit is expected to help rebuild the red grouper stock by discouraging directed commercial fishing for the species, although it is not likely to substantially reduce the current level of commercial harvest of red grouper, according to the National Register. “The council selected a commercial trip limit that in combination with extending the spawning season cloture for red grouper off North Carolina and South Carolina would help keep down harvest numbers to help rebuild the stock,” Poland said.
The red grouper has a body with a standard length which is 2.6 to 3 times as long as it is deep. The properly is subangular with the serrations at its angle being slightly enlarged and the upper edge of the gill cover is straight.
The They are dark reddish brown on the upper part of the head and body, shading to paler pink on the underparts, they are marked with lighter spots and blotches across their body and there are darker margins to the fins. This species has a maximum published total length of 125 centimeters (49 in), although they a more commonly found at lengths around 50 centimeters (20 in), and a maximum published weight of 23 kilograms (51 lb).
The redgrouper's typical range is coastal areas in the western Atlantic, stretching from southern Brazil to North Carolina in the US and including the Gulf of Mexico and Bermuda. The red grouper is a reversal, largely sedentary species which has an extended (~40 day) pelagic larval stage before it settles in shallow coastal hard bottom habitat as juveniles.
While primarily eating benthic invertebrates, the red grouper is an opportunistic feeder in the reef community. The diet commonly includes mantid and portend crabs, juvenile spiny lobster, and snapping shrimp, with the occasional fish.
The red grouper is of moderate size, about 125 cm and weighs 23 kg or more. When aggravated (they are highly territorial) or involved in spawning activities, these fish can very rapidly change coloration patterns, with the head or other parts of the body turning completely white, and the white spots appearing more intense.
Red grouper (Epimetheus Mario) on an excavated site on Pulley Ridges on the West Florida Shelf Red grouper actively excavate pits in the seafloor. They start digging in the sediment from the time they settle out of the plankton and continue throughout their lifetime.
They use their caudal fin and their mouths to remove debris and sediment from rocks, creating exposed surfaces on which sessile organisms actively settle (e.g., sponges, soft corals, algae). The exposure of structure also attracts a myriad of other species, including mobile invertebrates and a remarkable diversity of other fishes, from bodies and butterfly fish to grunts and snapper.
The lionfish Steroid Holsteins started invading red grouper habitat by 2008, from Florida Bay to the Florida Keys and offshore to Pulley Ridge, a despotic coral reef on the West Florida Shelf west of the Dry Tortugas. Known for being extremely capable predators on small reef fish, scientists are very interested in determining the extent to which their invasion changes the functional dynamics of associated communities.
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. “Helming parasites of Epimetheus Mario (Pisces: Serranidae) of the Yucatán Peninsula, southeastern Mexico” (PDF).
When fishermen talk about their favorite tasting fish that can be caught off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, most agree that sushi-grade tuna, Yahoo, and mahi-mahi are the top choices. We agree that all three of those fish taste great, but we’d argue that another should be added to the list: Grouper.
Grouper tastes very mild, with a faint sweet underlying flavor. Some of our friends describe grouper as tasting between sea bass and halibut, with a sweetness similar to crab or lobster.
They are brown and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage. Red grouper are red and live in slightly deeper water than the gag grouper.
Because of their unwary nature and large size, they were almost fished to extinction before being placed on the protected endangered species list. Red grouper tends to taste slightly milder, however black grouper grow larger and have more accessible fillets.
Black grouper also tends to have firmer meat that holds up better to frying or more intense preparations. Both fish have the signature grouper mild sweet flavor, and both have a moderate amount of oil that keeps their texture favorable even if slightly overcooked.
If you’re bottom fishing from a boat, we recommend drifting instead of anchoring near where the grouper are. Drifting will allow you to cover more area and bet your grouper lures in front of more fish.
Since grouper live in and around rocks, set your drag tight to prevent them from running back into cover. If you let a grouper take your bait then retreat to its rocky home, chances are your line will snap against the rocks.
In a large pan, throw in a knob of butter and sear the filet son each side for 2 minutes. Fried grouper tastes very similar to cod or other whitefish, and is amazing when prepared fresh.