Common Names: Sand perch, rock cod, coney, jewfish, warsaw, red grouper, black grouper, sea bass, grouper cheeks
Range & Habitat: All warm Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean salt waters.
Identifiction & Biology: Only smaller specimens (5 to 15 lbs.) make it to markets, but grouper have been known to grow up to 500 hundred pounds. The color of the fish varies greatly. Red grouper is brownish with some darker mottling.
Market Description: Grouper has meaty, lobster like, firm-textured white flesh of a mild, delicate flavor and a low fat content.
Sold as: Skinless fillets (most common), steaks, whole fish (under 10 lbs.) Grouper cheeks are known as a delicacy across the world.
Buying tips: Avoid whole fish weighing over 10 pounds, since larger specimens of grouper has been associated with ciguatera poisoning. Fillets should be snowy white, not too dry, and free of graying and browning. He fish should smell seawater fresh.
Substitutes: Blackfish, carp, cod, haddock, monkfish, rockfish, sea bass, red snapper, striped bass, tilefish, wolffish
Recommended Preparation: The skin of a grouper is tough and can infuse cooked flesh with a strong flavor, so make sure it is removed prior to cooking. Grouper is firm enough to stand up to almost any style of preparation, including deep-frying, grilling, braising, poaching, and steaming. It can also be cubed and kebabed, or used in chowders or stews.
Notes: Over 400 species of grouper inhabit the saltwaters of the world.