Deep Fried Grouper; Rethinking Fish and Chips

I would like to go back in time, to when I was ten years old.  I lived in Dubai with my family and was there for four years of my life.  Dubai was a diverse cosmopolitan city with delicious foods from all over the world.  If you ask me about the most memorable moment I had indulging in that array of exquisiteness, eating the fried Grouper has got to be up there on the top of my list!  There was a little restaurant down the street from where we lived that served fried Grouper and Biryani.  The fish was always served with French fries, Tahini sauce and pickles.  They placed everything in this big red basket, I called it a “treasure basket” when I was little.  I have always loved my tummy, and anything that delicious was either called a “treasure” or “a piece of Heaven.” Now Biryani on the other hand is a very famous Indian dish.  It gives rice a whole new meaning; it is a South Asian treasure, a delicacy! Indian cuisine was quite poplar there as there were so many Indian nationals residing in the Emirates. 

Ever since I came to the U.S, the concept of deep fried fish has been altered in my mind.  “Fish and Chips” is what it’s called here; it is usually beer-battered catfish.  I like catfish, but fried Grouper just tastes so much better! Honestly, it puts catfish to shame.  A lot of the nicer restaurants will serve Fish and Chips with Halibut, Sword fish, Sea bass and of course Catfish.  The best Fish and Chips I ever had were in Honolulu, it was beer battered Swordfish with crispy fries and an amazing Tartar sauce! However, I always found myself longing for the grouper! I grew up eating grouper and I still had withdrawals ten and fifteen years later.  I loved Grouper with a passion! 
It wasn’t too long ago when I discovered how much Floridians loved their Grouper! My friend from Florida introduced a few Grouper recipes that were so different from anything I had cooked or eaten before.  One of the recipes was grilled Grouper with an olive oil based marinade that you would marinate the night before.  I had never tasted anything more delicious! But most importantly, I knew where to get my Grouper, and of course I was in heaven when I found out where, going crazy and buying whole Grouper fish weighing Eighteen pounds and using the Turkey Fryer to fry it! I even had to use a hammer and a butcher’s knife to cut it in half in order for it to fit in my fryer.  You should have seen the look on that guy’s face when I said “please give me that fish in whole.”  Like I said, I went crazy with my Grouper, I can’t be blamed, it is hands down the best fish out there!

Here is how I fry my Grouper:

 6 lb whole Grouper (or cut into fillets) 
-          2 cups all-purpose flour
-          1 tsp coriander
-          1 tsp cumin
-          1 tsp spoon
-          1 tsp garlic powder
-          1 tsp white pepper
-          1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-          1 tsp paprika
-          1 tsp salt
-          1 tbs lemon zest

Taratour Sauce:
-          1 lemon squeezed
-          3 tbs of Tahini
-          1 tbs of olive oil
-          1 cup yogurt
-          Salt + Pepper
-          2 cloves of garlic
-          1 bunch parsley

It is preferable to use a whole fish, with head and tail.  This usually makes for a nicer presentation and does not affect the taste.  Wash your fish with cold water then pat dry.  Rub the fish with the lemon zest from one lemon.  Season with all the spices listed above but only use half the amounts as the other half will go into the batter mix.  Make sure you slit the fish on both sides vertically which will allow it to get cooked better from the inside.  When seasoning, reach in there and make sure you rub the slits and the inside of the fish.  Wrap with foil and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. 

In a separate bowl mix the flour and the remainder of the spices. Take the fish out of the fridge, dip in mixture and fry until golden in 380 degrees. 6 to 8 minutes later the fish should be ready.  Make your French fries on the side however you like. 

As for the Taratour, mince the garlic, chop the parsley very fine and mix everything together.  Make sure you dip your fish in this sauce before each bite that you take! You will never look at Fish and Chips the same way again after this! 


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