“Every seafood joint along the Gulf Coast has its own version of the grouper sandwich,” says chef John Besh. For his take on the sandwich, he tops the crispy fish with a tangy relish and a drippy ranch-style sauce studded with charred jalapeños. If you’re planning on catching the grouper yourself, Besh recommends icing the fish for a day before cooking. “This will allow the flesh to rest and become a bit less firm and much more tender and flaky.”
Slideshow:More Grouper Recipes
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
1 small ripe green tomato, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon packed chopped dill
1 1/4 cups panko
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Four 4-ounce grouper fillets (about 1 inch thick)
4 brioche buns, split and toasted
How to Make It
Roast the jalapeños directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until charred all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, stem and seed the jalapeños, then finely chop.
In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic and onion powders, celery salt, lemon juice and a dash of hot sauce. Whisk in the chiles and season the jalapeño-ranch dressing with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with the vinegar. Add the cucumber, tomato and dill and toss to combine. Season with salt.
In a mini food processor, pulse the panko until finely ground. Spread in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, whisk the milk with the egg. In a third shallow bowl, spread the flour. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip the fish in the milk-egg mixture, then dredge gently in the panko.
In a large, deep skillet or saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Fry the fish over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain and season with salt.
Spread some of the ranch dressing on the bottom buns. Top with a piece of fish and the green tomato–cucumber relish. Drizzle with more dressing, close the sandwiches and serve, passing any remaining ranch dressing at the table.
The jalapeño-ranch dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
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