Gag grouper are a very popular sportfish, and common catch along the reefs and rocks of coastal Atlantic waters.
But how do they taste? Are gag grouper good to eat, and what’s important to know about this iconic bottom fish?
Table of Contents
- Are Gag Grouper Good To Eat?
- Are Big Gag Grouper Good To Eat?
- Do Gag Grouper Have Worms?
- Can You Eat Gag Grouper Raw?
- Are Gag Grouper In Season?
- Which Fish Is Better, Snapper Or Grouper?
Are Gag Grouper Good To Eat?
Gag Grouper are one of the most highly desired fish, known for their flaky white fillets and robust, yet mild taste. They are excellent to eat, and very common in seafood restaurants and fish markets throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast.
Gag Grouper Taste & Texture
The taste of gag grouper would be considered mild, with big white flakes and delicious flavor. It does not have a fishy taste, due to its low oil content, and tastes comparable to halibut, snapper, or black sea bass.
The texture of gag grouper is semi-firm. It is not as soft as something like flounder, yet not nearly as firm as swordfish.
The fillets yield big chunky flakes, making it an excellent choice for a fried fish sandwich or seared on a hot grill.
If you enjoy the taste and texture of white fish sandwiches, such as cod, or if you enjoy the classic dish ‘fish and chips’ chances are you will like the taste of gag grouper.
Are Big Gag Grouper Good To Eat?
Bigger specimens can often taste different, due to a variety of reasons. In the case of gag grouper, larger fish (those over 10 pounds) often develop a slightly different taste profile than their younger counterparts.
While they are still delicious, they might have a stronger ‘fishy‘ flavor and a slightly tougher texture. However, this can also depend on how the fish is prepared and cooked.
It’s worth noting that many experienced anglers prefer catching medium-sized groupers because they believe these offer the best flavor and texture. That being said, even larger gag grouper can be a treat if prepared correctly.
Do Gag Grouper Have Worms?
A concern for many when considering seafood is the presence of parasites. Groupers, like many wild fish, can occasionally have worms, particularly in their visceral organs.
Gag grouper is one of the most common species to have worms, especially in larger fish over 10 pounds. For really big fish, those over 25+ pounds, there is a very high likelihood they have worms.
However, these are usually harmless if the fish is cooked properly:
- Inspection: Before cooking, it’s a good practice to inspect your grouper fillets for any visible worms or parasites and remove them (simply cut them out with a fillet knife!)
- Cooking: Cooking the fish at the recommended temperature ensures that any parasites are killed. This is why it’s always advised to cook seafood thoroughly and avoid undercooking.
If caught fresh and handled properly, gag grouper should be safe and delightful to eat, but smaller fish often taste better.
Can You Eat Gag Grouper Raw?
Gag grouper is a delicious fish, but it is not one of the common species to eat raw in sushi or sashimi…
Could you eat it raw? Sure, but I personally would not recommend it. As I mentioned, Gag grouper has a high likelihood of internal parasites (which are killed when cooked), and honestly, the texture is much better when cooked.
Throw the gag grouper on the grill, or fry it up in a fish sandwich and save the cobia or tuna to eat raw!
Are Gag Grouper In Season?
Gag grouper are a highly regulated fish species, and in most states, they do have a season, and slot limit.
Contact your state fish and wildlife agency to find the latest gag grouper seasons in your area.
Which Fish Is Better, Snapper Or Grouper?
Choosing between snapper and grouper often boils down to personal preference! And both fish have loyal followers.
Snapper is considered to be slightly sweeter, with more pink/white colored fillets. Grouper is a bit firmer but with a whiter fillet and a more robust texture.
The bottom line is that both snapper and grouper are delicious, and having to choose between the two is a problem I wouldn’t mind!
Thanks for reading.
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