Let’s cut right to the chase…Yes, snook are good to eat!
Actually, they are phenomenal and in this article, I’m going to tell you why (and how to properly prepare them).
But did you know that at one time snook was considered bad to eat? They actually had the nickname ‘soapfish‘.
Let me explain…
Table of Contents
- Can You Eat Snook?
- What Do Snook Taste Like?
- Are Snook Safe To Eat?
- Is Snook Good For You?
- How To Prepare Snook
- How To Cook Snook
- Can You Eat Snook Raw?
- So, Is Snook A Good Eating Fish?
Can You Eat Snook?
Snook are perfectly edible and highly prized by anglers for their large fillets and pleasing taste. The meat is crystal white, with a firm texture and delicate flavor.
Snook are so prized as a table fish that at one time their numbers were greatly reduced by overfishing. This, combined with a die-off caused by cold snaps in the early part of the century, resulted in lower snook numbers.
Because of this, snook have a very limited season; in most places, a fisherman can only take one snook a day. Further, what sizes you can keep are strictly regulated.
Snook is rarely sold in restaurants, so if you want to sample this delicacy, you need to go out and catch a snook yourself!
What Do Snook Taste Like?
Prepared correctly, snook has very white, mild-flavored fillets. They have an unusually low fat content but are not dry. The meat has a juicy, flaky texture that is delicate for such a large fish.
It’s commonly compared to grouper, cobia and other firm (but not oily), fish.
There is also a small amount of red meat on a snook fillet. This is safe to eat but has a much stronger flavor. Some people like it but most remove it.
Want more proof that snook good?
Take a visit to any of the popular snook fishing areas like Sebasitan Inlet, Stuart Florida, Fort Pierce Inlet, etc…
During the opening of snook season you will see anglers lined up along the rocks, bridges, jetties, and on their boats trying to catch dinner!
Are Snook Safe To Eat?
Snook are a very safe fish to eat. They feed on a clean diet of pinfish, mullet, croakers, crustaceans and generally don’t accumulate mercury or other environmental toxins.
Snook also have no innate toxicity and they don’t generally accumulate any parasites (worms) that can’t be killed by cooking or freezing.
The only real danger with snook comes from their sharp gill covers. (always be careful when handling a snook!)
Is Snook Good For You?
In addition to tasting great, snook is a very healthy fish to eat. An 8-ounce portion has just over 200 calories, with zero carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of fat. A whopping 93% of its calories come from protein.
Snook is great for low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. It’s also very low in sodium.
Because its fat content is so low, snook are not a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
How To Prepare Snook
With snook, preparation is everything. There are parts of the world where snook has a terrible reputation as a food fish, solely because of poor preparation.
In these places, snook is known as soapfish. Here, snook is looked down upon because they cook their fish with the skin on. Eating snook that’s cooked with the skin does taste a lot like eating soap, hence the nickname!
While preparation is paramount, it’s also pretty simple. Start a cut right behind the pectoral fin and cut up diagonally to the back of the head. It’s important to go up diagonally because if you go up straight, you’ll lose a lot of meat.
From the back of the head, cut down the ridge of the back, all the way to the tail. The flesh should cut smoothly and easily. If it doesn’t, you need a sharper knife.
Now, cut right down to the backbone, passing the knife over the backbone and ribs, angling down after you pass over the backbone to be sure to get all the meat. Don’t worry if some of the ribs come out with the fillet.
Once you have your fillet, starting at the tail, insert the knife between the meat and the skin and separate the skin from the fillet.
Now, flip it over and make sure that there is absolutely no skin sticking to the meat. You’ll also see a little bit of red meat on this side of the fillet. If you like a mild-tasting fish, remove that as well.
Flip the fillet back over and slice out any ribs that are left. Now you have to get the pin bones. Run your finger along above where the ribs were and you’ll feel a very narrow strip of tiny bones. Cut that entire little strip out.
Take the y-shaped fillet that you’re left with and cut it up into the sizes you want to cook. Rinse or soak it in cold water, pat it dry, and you’re ready to go!
How To Cook Snook
Because of its delicious, mild, flavor, there are a lot of ways you can cook snook and have it come out tasting great. The important thing when cooking snook is to not use a recipe that overwhelms the snook’s flavor.
In my opinion, it’s like cooking a good steak..less is more! Keep it simple!
Let’s be honest; some methods of cooking fish are designed more to disguise or mute the flavor than to bring it out.
You don’t need to do that with snook!
This isn’t to say that a snook that’s been soaked in milk, battered, and deep fried won’t taste good. It will, but what you’ll be tasting is the breading and the oil, not the snook.
Since snook is such a hard-to-obtain delicacy, better to save those cooking methods for other fish.
You need to have a light touch when you’re cooking snook. Some spices, maybe a little citrus juice, and a mild oil are all you need.
Snook in a frying pan with olive oil is great. Fry a snook in garlic butter and you won’t need to add any spices or sauces.
Surprisingly, given its low fat content, snook is also great baked or grilled because the meat still stays juicy.
If you do want to use some dairy-based or other heavy sauce with it, better to serve that on the side for dipping.
Don’t overwhelm the snook; you want to taste it!
Can You Eat Snook Raw?
You could eat snook raw, but probably don’t want to. Most people seem to agree that cooking a snook fillet enhances the flavor.
Also, while snook is a firm fish, the consistency isn’t the best for sushi. (save the sashimi for fish like tuna, wahoo, cobia etc).
So, Is Snook A Good Eating Fish?
Snook are an excellent eating fish and highly prized by recreational anglers. The firm white meat, robust fillet sizes, and cooking variability make it one of the most prized inshore fish to eat.
All you need is a salad, some mac and cheese, and a cold beer!
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