Other Names: Mexican snapper, Caribbean red snapper, Florida snapper
Range & Habitat: U.S. Southern Atlantic coast; Gulf and Caribbean coasts
Identification & Biology: A red-eyed fish with carmine fins and a red back that fades into a pinkish belly. Ranges from 2 to 35 lbs. (average 3 to 8 lbs.).
Market Description: The prized white meat of the red snapper is firm in texture, low in fat, mild and delicate in flavor. A meaty, all-purpose fish with edible skin.
Sold as: Whole fish, fillets, steaks
Buying tips: Not all snapper is red snapper. Be wary of fish market labels, which can be ambiguous. Look for whole fish with deep red fins and red backs fading into pinkish-silver bellies; check for healthy red gills (the fish should look alive). Choose fillets with red skin left on, as skinned fillets can easily come from other (less premium) kinds of snapper. White meat should be moist and reflective, free of gaping and drying.
Substitutes: Blackfish, carp, grouper, haddock, monkfish, ocean perch, pollock, tilefish, turbot, whiting, wolffish
Recommended Preparation: Almost anything goes with this popular, versatile fish. Whole red snapper is excellent baked and stuffed, or poached and glazed (salmon- style). Fillets can be steamed, broiled, roasted, pan-fried, or (with a fish basket) grilled. Chunks can be added to stews and chowders (leave the skin on for a colorful touch).