The goliath grouper is one of the largest bonefish currently known. It prefers coastal waters along northeastern Florida, the sunny and tropical Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.
The goliath grouper has earned its name because these fish can weigh up to 800 pounds and measure around eight feet long.
It has a huge gaping mouth and lies in wait in large crevices until prey swims by, and then it swallows the prey whole. This could include humans if the goliath grouper is large enough, although they much prefer crabs, snapper, and lobster.
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Do People Eat Goliath and Is It Safe?
People do eat goliath grouper, especially in Caribbean locales like Cuba. The trouble with the fish is that the older and larger it gets, the tougher the meat gets. If goliath grouper is on the menu, a good idea to ask is how large or old the fish was when prepared.
Another hugely important consideration is that goliath grouper muscle is thought to have dangerously high levels of mercury. This is because the higher a fish or ocean dweller is on the food chain, the more mercury concentration is likely to be present in their bodies.
Florida passed a law last year that allows registered anglers certain freedoms to fish for these protected fish. Otherwise, these fish are protected elsewhere in the US, and there are still strict rules regarding goliath grouper fishing in Florida.
What Does It Taste Like?
The different types of grouper are known for having a very mild flavor, unlike salmon or mackerel, which both have strong fishy flavors because they’re so high in fat. Because grouper live in warmer waters and have lower fat concentration, the taste is almost like a subtle sweetness. It’s all about the seasoning.
Can You Eat Goliath Grouper Raw?
Generally, goliath grouper does not present any more health risks when eaten raw than other raw fish—salmon, tuna, or swordfish. However, it’s best to eat goliath grouper after it’s been cooked because the muscle is quite tough. Cooking tenderizes the meat and makes it much more enjoyable.
How To Cook Goliath Grouper
If you prefer to filet your fish, you can prepare goliath grouper just like any other fish you would eat fileted. The first step is to procure a clean filet of goliath grouper. You can then sear it in butter in a pan and baste the filet as it cooks on one side. Flip it after a few minutes, and then you’re just about done.
Goliath grouper are typically prepared in chowders and stews because the meat will be tough unless the fish on the menu is juvenile. Chowder works for eating goliath grouper because one must cut the fish into small, manageable pieces, and the toughness is lost in the cooking process.
Goliath Grouper Recipes
You can get more creative than a stew with goliath grouper if you so desire. You can filet the fish, prepare the filets with lemon and rosemary, and then serve it on a bed of pasta. You can use tomato sauce or cream sauce and finish with lemon zest.
You can also grill the filets, and since grouper absorbs flavor well, this will add a smokey depth of flavor that will complement the sweetness of the meat.
Is It Safe to Eat Goliath Grouper?
It is safe to eat goliath grouper, despite the researchers and others who are convinced that it contains too much mercury.
Honestly, there is no proof that goliath grouper muscle contains more mercury than any other popular dinner fish, but remember that these fish can live for decades. The longer an organism inhabits the ocean, the more mercury will be in its system.
It is illegal in most places to eat catch, cook, or eat goliath grouper, so keep that in mind if you’re offered some in a state that isn’t Florida.