Let's Talk Food: Florida fish among most delicious, healthful, popular worldwide

Many of our residents in Naples come from the North where the fish offered were totally different from our subtropical varieties. Many people were convinced that cold water fish were more nutritious and better tasting than those offered in local markets.

Those shopping for seafood no longer find a plethora of northern fish such as pike, whitefish, scrod, cod and other familiar species. It means getting educated and knowledgeable about the local fish. And once they do, they realize why Florida fish is among the most delicious, healthful and popular of all the seafood gathered from waters around the world.

Florida is the nation's largest producer of a variety of seafood. The waters surrounding the state yield up the most black mullet, spiny lobsters, red snapper, calico scallops, grouper, stone crabs, grouper, Spanish mackerel, spotted sea trout, king mackerel and pompano.

Along with citrus, cattle and winter vegetables the seafood industry contributes mightily to our economy. Seafood harvesters bring more than $400 million in revenues into the state.

Since seafood is highly recommended by nutritionists, it behooves us all to increase our intake. To familiarize old and new residents on the best of the local fish, I am giving a description of each of the most popular. Your fishmonger is your best friend when it comes to the selection of Florida fish. He can tell you about the various kinds of fish and, in most cases, will give you leaflets and brochures with recipes and suggestion on how to prepare and serve this most healthful protein food.

Flounder: A member of the flatfish family, the flesh of this master of camouflage is considered one of the finest of all food fish. The flesh is firm, white and delicate.

Grouper: A member of the sea bass family, all varieties of grouper are meaty and flavorful. The grouper can reach weights from 20 to 40 pounds and are available year-round.

King mackerel: This is considered to be a "fat" fish and, as such, it grills well. This fish is best during the summer months, and because of its size, strength, speed and courageous fighting ability, it is regarded as a prized game fish.

Spanish mackerel: This is a much smaller member of the mackerel family, but no less delicious. It also is high in fat, but not dangerous to health since it contains the Omega 3 factors. Usually caught in passes and harbors, they are easily distinguished by the yellowish oval spots and large sharp teeth.

Pompano: Considered the aristocrat of Florida waters, the pompano is easily distinguished by its shimmering, silvery skin and thin body. The white flesh is delicate and firm; the flavor incomparable. Pompano is expensive and not often available because of the demand.

Red snapper: Red snapper has a snowy white meat, which is sweet, mild, moist and nutty in taste. It is caught mainly around Pensacola but is available year-round throughout the state.

Sea trout: There are about four varieties of this fish, which belongs to the weakfish family. Consult your fishmonger on what is available. All species are popular, tasty and have tender white meat. Trout have a long caloric contest and are easily prepared. It is relatively inexpensive.

Snapper: There are 34 species of this favored fish. The meat is juicy, white and very flavorful. This fish may be served broiled, baked, poached or grilled, in a host of imaginative and delicious ways. The variety includes red, pink, mangrove, yellow eye, mutton and the much-favored yellowtail.

Mullet: For many years mullet was so abundant and cheap that connoisseurs underrated it. Since there is now a law governing the netting of fish, its supply is limited. It is a fat fish that is wonderful smoked, fried, baked or grilled. Several years back, it was renamed Lisa but the campaign was a failure except in Georgia, where it is very popular.

Fish is one of the easiest foods to prepare since it requires little cooking time when fried, grilled, baked or poached.

Doris Reynolds is the author of "When Peacocks Were Roasted and Mullet was Fried" and "Let's Talk Food." They are available for sale in the lobby of the Naples Daily News. Also available is a four-part DVD, "A Walk Down Memory Lane with Doris Reynolds. "Contact Doris Reynolds at foodlvr25@aol.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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