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Is it Okay to Eat Grouper?

Is Grouper Edible?

Yes, you can eat grouper. Because it’s so mild, it’s the perfect fish to pair with a marinade or flavorful sauce, making it a popular choice of chefs to place on their restaurant menus.

fresh whole grouper ready to be filleted

Grouper is also a popular choice when it comes to whipping up fish sandwiches or nuggets, since its firm consistency and mild flavor make it easy to blacken or bread and fry.

What Does Grouper Taste Like?

There are many types of grouper in the sea–over 400, in fact–including red, black, Nassau, Goliath, gag, and more. There can be slight flavor variations among them, but in general, grouper has a very mild, slightly sweet flavor.

cooked fillet of grouper with parsley and lemon

It is one of the least fishy-tasting fish. It is moist and delicate with large, firm flaky chunks, similar in texture to crab meat. Some people describe the taste as similar to halibut or bass.

Is Grouper Safe to Eat?

As with many other fish, the possibility of elevated levels of mercury in grouper is important to take into account. It’s best to limit eating grouper to no more than about two times a month for adults and once a month for kids.

fresh fillet of grouper with capers, butter, and lemon

That said, when you do choose to eat it, you can be sure you’re making a nutritious choice. A four-ounce serving has only about 100 calories yet includes a whopping 22 grams of healthy protein.

Over-Fishing of Grouper

While generally safe to eat, it’s important to know that many species of grouper are overfished. Groupers have a unique mating ritual where adult fish come together in huge groups to spawn.

malabar grouper swimming in the ocean

Those huge groups are a draw to fishermen, resulting in the population being depleted. The black, red, and gag varieties of grouper are more plentiful and not as overfished; they are your best bets when it comes to enjoying a meal of grouper.

Fish Poisoning

While very rare, it’s important to know about a hazard sometimes found in grouper. Called ciguatoxin, this dangerous toxin can lead to ciguatera fish poisoning.

The first symptoms include itching and numbness in the mouth, hands, and feet. Abdominal symptoms, a rash, chills, body aches, and more can develop.

Symptoms usually disappear after a few days, but rare life-threatening reactions can develop. It’s important to see a doctor if you have an unusual reaction.

Can You Eat Raw Grouper?

American sushi chefs rarely use grouper in their creations. Many of the varieties of grouper that can be used for sushi are known to carry parasites.

Parasites are typically killed and become harmless when heated in the process of cooking, but uncooked fish with parasites could make you very sick.

fresh raw grouper for sushi and sashimi

One type of grouper, however, the scamp variety, can be eaten raw safely. Its delicate, silky texture makes for delicious sushi.

Fishing for grouper is fun and challenging. It’s delicious and healthy if you make sure to enjoy it sparingly and seek out varieties of grouper that have not suffered from overfishing.

While you won’t likely be having it in your sushi, with just a few commonsense precautions you’ll be able to enjoy grouper at your dinner table for years to come!

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. If you know where you’re grouper is being sourced from, then you should have no problems when eating this delicious fish. It is important, however, to look for sustainably sourced fish when you’re in the market for grouper.

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