My husband and his pals went offshore fishing a while back and had a fantastic day, as measured by their haul of huge red grouper, black grouper and snapper. Did you know that with large grouper, when filleting, you can carve out the cheeks from the jaw area? And when cooked, they taste a little bit like lobster (or crawfish), with a similar consistency. Today, my hubby carefully carved out the precious meat and brought the cheeks home, challenging me to come up with something special for dinner. I had never cooked grouper cheeks before, but set out to create a tasty dish.
I had on hand zucchini, mushrooms and a little basil pesto left over from something I had made earlier in the week. I thought it might be a good opportunity to try one of those zucchini ‘pasta’ recipes, but unfortunately I didn’t have a spiral slicer yet, so I used my trusty mandolin to shred the zucchini (not ideal, but OK). I let the zucchini drain in a colander to remove excess water, then sautéed it with mushrooms and butter and mixed in the pesto when it had cooled a bit. For the fish, I simply coated the cheeks in Redfish Magic (a must-have in a fisherman’s house!) and sautéed them lightly in butter. It was SO delicious. If you ever get access to grouper cheeks, don’t hesitate to take them and run. The good thing about this recipe is that you can use any light, flaky white fish to pair with the zucchini, mushroom & basil mixture. It’s a tasty flavor combo, plus it’s low in carbs, an added benefit!
Here’s the hard-working fishing crew (my cute hubby in front holding the red grouper):
- 2 zucchini, shredded into strands with a spiral slicer or mandolin
- 1 c. white or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 4 Grouper cheeks (or just any beautiful, light, white fish), rinsed & patted dry
- 1 Tb. Redfish Magic seasoning
- 3 Tb. unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Basil pesto
- Lemon wedges for garnish
- 1 c. fresh basil leaves
- ½ c. fresh, flat leaf parsley
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- ½ c. parmesan cheese
- zest of one lemon
- ¼ c. pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ c. olive oil (or more, if consistency is a bit dry)
- Place all ingredients through black pepper into a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then in continuous mode, drizzle olive oil through the pour spout (this should take about a minute). Taste and season with salt, pepper or more lemon, if needed.
- Shred the zucchini into strands using a spiral slicer or mandolin. Place into a mesh colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt and allow excess liquid to drain (about 10 mins.)
- in a small skillet, heat 1 Tb. butter and saute mushrooms until brown. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.
- Using the same skillet, heat 1 Tb. butter and saute zucchini. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. When liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes), remove from pan and add to mushrooms. Mix basil pesto into the zucchini & mushrooms. Add salt & pepper, to taste.
- Sprinkle both sides of fish with Redfish Magic.
- In a hot skillet, heat remaining 1 Tb. butter and place fish in pan; cook for only a couple of minutes on each side, since the Grouper cheeks are small (you don't want to overcook!).
- Place some zucchini-basil pesto mixture on a dish, and add fish. Garnish with lemon & enjoy!