Best way to cook this big hunk of grouper?
Had it in Florida a few weeks ago - a fried three inch chunk on a seafood platter - and it was wonderful. So, I couldn't resist and bought a slab of it, about one and a half pounds, to fix for dinner tomorrow. For the first time I am intimidated. It is over one inch thick and looks like it really needs to cook well in order to get the texture I found so unusually good at the restaurant. As my daughter said, "It really does taste like chicken". Any suggestions out there? Can't tell what kind of grouper this is, but the restaurant fish was supposedly black grouper.
My favorite way is to lightly flour it (Pillsbury Shake & Blend is great for this), dip it in beaten egg, then in finely chopped pecans. Pan fry in butter or a combination of butter and olive oil. Finish in the oven. If you want sauce, deglaze the pan with white wine and finish the butter and chopped parsley.
I broil grouper, although I don't recall a fish as thick as what you mention. I season the fish with s&p, make a mixture of mayo & mustard and spread it on fairly thick. Broiling the fish gives the mixture a crust. Perhaps you could broil it to crusty then finish in hot oven to ensure it is cooked.
Do you want to fry it or try another method? I deep fried (well, medium fried - only had so much oil, so turned it once) about 2 lb. that was equally as thick the other evening. Cut into 1-1/2" wide slices, made a beer batter, had oil at 375. It was perfect, cooked quickly. Not sure how long, just went by the color. Probably about 3 - 5 min. Made some great tacos!
Grouper is a nice firm fish. If you have cooked mahimahi or snapper of a like size it will be a similar treatment. Grouper is mild so it will take on flavors well.
It cooks fairly fast. The flesh is already firm, that's why it is so good for deep-fry & grilling, won't fall apart easy like flounder or catfish for instance. Better to look for visual changes like flesh becoming more opaque and flaking apart easily, just use a knife tip to peak inside.
Some time frames: bake, 350, uncovered about 20 min.
grill or broil, about 4" from heat, 8-12 min total (turn once if grilling.)
Since it is fairly quick & you feel unsure, cut off a bit & test it.
The mayo based recipe below is very forgiving and keeps fish quite moist if you are concerned with overcooking. It is firm enough to use for kabobs too.
State of Fl. has good print material for seafood, probably on the web too.