Tropical Grouper. Photo by Lynne Foster.

It was too hot and too still on the deck most of this summer to enjoy the grill, and I hate to wash dishes. So, this was my solution.

Sheet pan cooking is my new favorite – easy to prepare, easy to cook, and easy to clean up since I line the pan with parchment paper.

The Coyles brought us a bag of fresh fish, including some beautiful grouper. Its rich texture makes for a great roasting fish, and its delicately flavored white flesh is a perfect canvas for many different taste sensations from the usual salt and pepper to exotica.

So, exotica was in the cards, as it often is for me. Maybe exotica is not the correct description, though, as so many elements that were once rarely used in most homes have now become common in many grocery stores and kitchens.

Cooking and eating are very different from my growing-up days, thanks in part to relatively new and less expensive travel opportunities, and the waves of immigrants that expose millions to the food traditions of other cultures. My parents did not grow up on spaghetti and I didn’t grow up with tacos! Both are now mainstays on most American tables.

But, back to the gorgeous grouper!

Drawing inspiration from all the cookbooks and food sites I constantly pore over, this recipe combines favorite flavorings to create a silky sauce for the fish, using a combination of fresh and short-cut ingredients I always have on hand.

Tropical Grouper, before it goes into the oven. Photo by Lynne Foster.


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon ginger from a jar of Christopher Ranch minced ginger or finely grated fresh
  • 1 tablespoon garlic from a jar of Christopher Ranch minced garlic or finely grated fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (home-dried from Beth)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (Lanier’s Tupelo from the Apalachicola swamps in FL)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large lime, grated peel, and squeezed juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. (My herbs failed for the 1st time this summer so I used Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried)
  • Grouper ( I had 2 large pieces so, you may want 4 pieces of about 6 oz.
  • Campari tomatoes, sliced (unless you have good rips garden tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a large bowl combine coconut milk, ginger, garlic, turmeric, red pepper flakes, honey, and 1 tsp salt. Whisk well.
  2. Zest and juice the lime and add to the coconut milk mixture. Stir in 1/4 c chopped cilantro. Whisk again and add the fish, turning and coating. Marinate of fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Adjust oven racks to lower middle and to upper levels, closest to the broiler.
  4. Heat to 425F.
  5. Place the sliced tomatoes onto a parchment-lined 1/2 pan sheet. Drizzle 2 TBCP olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.
  6. Add the marinated fish to the sheet pan along with the tomatoes and spoon all the marinade over all
  7. Place the pan in the lower rack in the oven and roast for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the depth of the fish. It should not easily flake at this point.
  8. Heat broiler to High. Place the pan on the broiler rack to finish cooking, rotating the pan once to ensure the fish is tender and flaky and the tomatoes are just beginning to brown in spots.
  9. Plate the grouper and tomatoes over steamed Carolina Gold Rice and finish with the remaining pan juices. Garnish with the rest of the cilantro and lime wedges.

Note: I use a Sanyo electric rice cooker for perfectly cooked rice every time. The ratio for Carolina Gold is 2 water to 1 rice, with a touch of salt.

There is, of course, a story behind the rice cooker.

Never being able to get rice right, I had simply given up on trying. Who wants sticky rice?

In another life, I was preparing to move to Pakistan for a multi-national tobacco company and learn to run a household there. The company hired an Urdu language tutor for me and sent me to a seminar on life in the East.

The many foreign topics (to me) included how to deal with servants, of all things. Another was food, which was more “up my alley.”

In that course, I learned that Asians embraced the new technology and nearly everyone uses, or rather have their cooks use, electric rice cookers. So that is when I learned to embrace shortcuts!

I spent a lot of time in Pakistan and in India and came to love being there among generous and welcoming people. so when the company made another decision. I was heartbroken. I still embrace the cultures there and, of course, the food.

This recipe is a tiny intro to Eastern flavors. Next up will be a full-blown Indian recipe – stay tuned!

The post Island Cooking: Grouper with a Taste of the Tropics appeared first on Island Free Press.

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Credit: Original content published here.

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