Fishmonger’s suggestion for how to cook grouper…or instant fish stew
I went into my local fishmonger here in Sardinia and there was a wealth of fresh fish, most of it whole and needing time-consuming skinning and filleting. There was one no-brainer, some fabulous tuna; and there was something very solid and white. It didn’t have any bones and it was already skinned so that too went in the shopping basket.
I asked how I should cook it, and the fishmonger described the technique outlined below.
Further investigation, once back in front of my computer, revealed that what I’d bought was grouper.
Grouper includes a group of various species of fish which often start off as female and then become male. They are all rather ugly due to what they are able to do with their lips – basically they collect and eat their prey by turning themselves in into strong, sucking vacuum cleaners, hoovering up unsuspecting prey and then swallowing it whole. They can grow to be enormous, the size of a small boat! You can find a lot more about grouper on this site.
And they are the chicken of fish! They have a very delicate taste, but a good firm texture so the flesh absorbs flavours well. This is a lean fish, which falls apart easily into large flakes.
You can cook grouper in any number of ways. You can:
- Grill it
- Griddle it
- Fry it
- Bake it, or roast it
All the above with a lemony butter sauce…maybe a little white wine, some capers….parsley…
- Or…. As recommended by the fishmonger…. turn it into a stew and cook as outlined below.
For a recipe for cheat’s rouille, follow this link.
Fishmonger’s Grouper Stew
Serves – 2
- 500g/1 lb grouper… or other firm, delicate-flavoured, white fish
- Glug of olive oil
- 1 huge beef tomato…or about 250g/8 oz tomatoes of one kind or another
- 120 ml/½ cup dry vermouth
- 250g/8 oz peeled and par-boiled potatoes
- 1 fish stock cube
- 1 onion
- Saffron, about half a teaspoon of stamens soaked in half and egg cup of hot water
- About ten black olives
- ½ tsp coriander seeds, dry fried and ground – do this first, see recipe, step 1
- Smoked salt
- Pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
- A couple of stalks of lemon verbena (optional)
- Cheats’ rouille made with mayo, garlic, saffron and maybe some breadcrumbs
- In a large, deep frying pan dry fry the coriander seeds, then put them in a pestle and mortar to grind when you have a moment.
- In the same pan put about a tbsp of olive oil and heat gently.
- Peel and chop the onion and add to the pan.
- Cut the fish into cubes of about an inch/generous couple of centimetres. Season and add to the pan.
- Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, add to the pan.
- Core and chop the tomato/es into bite-sized pieces, add to the pan.
- Add the vermouth and the saffron. Crumble over the stock cube. Stir. Add the stalks of lemon verbena, the salt, the Urfa pepper flakes, the ground coriander seeds and the saffron. Taste and adjust.
- Simmer for about twenty minutes.
- Serve, with a dollop of cheat’s rouille in each bowl.