Friday, December 08, 2006

The Big Grouper Scandal

Our local paper (the St. Pete Times) is making a big deal out of a little issue. For months it's been reporting that most restaurants that advertise grouper were really serving another type of fish instead.

Big fat hairy deal. Now, go get a real story. I have some for you, if you're interested. Oh, but you'll have to do some tough investigation work and take risks. I'm talking about real reporting. After all, it's easy enough if you only have to take samples of food to a lab to have it analyzed.

Restaurant owners are cowering in fear, of course, which makes the paper feel like it's really got some attention from all of this.

One of my favorite restaurants (The Bonefish Grille) has changed their Grouper Piccata to Tilefish Piccata. I ordered the tilefish and found out that I'd been having tilefish all along. (I always wondered why it tasted better than most grouper!) I was informed that if I wanted to update it to it's less tasty, drier cousin I would have had to pay more for the privilege.

Grouper used to be a junk fish that fishermen always threw back because it was so inferior to almost every other type. Now it's in fad, so it's being advertised in fancy restaurants where it never would have even made it as an appetizer.

Apparently many restaurants were accepting frozen fish labelled as grouper, but the manufacturer had actually substituted another fish. So, it's really not the fault of the restaurants, but they're paying the price in bad publicity.

Instead of running in fear, restaurants should see this as an opportunity to begin to educate the public on the many delicious choices there are. Most patrons would appreciate a little something extra to read at the table, so why not publish a little pamphlet on the types of meats that are offered, why they're a particularly good choice, and why the chef recommends them?

Let's get away from all this silliness.


uncle joe said...

All I'm ever offered at a restaurant is 3 crayons and a sheet of blank paper.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Unca Joe, :D

~QZ~ said...

i'll tell you the silliness...and that is we are eating garbage fish now? and why? have we become so bored with our food that we must eat the trash fish? ick. gross....whats wrong with some good old fashioned boneless brown trout, heck you can catch your limit everyday at the nearest porta potty.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Suze, leave it to you. :D

The Lazy Iguana said...

This will not be a problem for too much longer. With climate change and its effect on fish populations combined with over-fishing and commercial methods of harvest that involve large amounts of by-catch - on top of ever increasing demand - sooner or later fish will be so expensive nobody will be able to afford it.

Already legal grouper have to be 20 - 24 inches (depending on species) with bag limits of either 5 per person per day, 2 per person per day, or in the case of the Warsaw Speckled Hind Grouper 1 per vessel per day - regardless of the number of people aboard. I can remember when legal grouper were smaller than 20 inches. Of course in the Gulf Of Mexico you can keep Scamp Grouper of only 16 inches - unless you are in Monroe County waters where the legal length is 20 inches.

Confusing huh?

~Deb said...

I work in the restaurant business as well (or used to actually) and they do this all the time. Either they simply ran out of the fish, and pawned off another fish telling the customer it's something else.

Look at sushi bars. You know the stuff that looks like shredded crab? It's actually munk fish of some sort- not even shellfish. (I can be wrong with the actual name of that fish) but it's NOT crab. People mistake it for crab, due to it's orangy-white color.

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Saur, re: yesterday's post,
here's one for you -

Yesterday Blair managed to appear with Bush
Today Bush reveals "Barney's Xmas special" talking to his pooch

Just shows Bush cares more what his pooch has to say, than his poodle over at blightey way

Kathleen said...

Saur, I have had the tilefish at the Bonefish Grille. It is very good. But, I have also had the grouper at the Hurricane and Harvey's and I have to say, it is delicious. I have a real love of FRESH grouper prepared well.

mckay said...

saur, i think you've uncovered a vast conspiracy. here on the west coast, restaurants sell Chilean Sea Bass - but it's really a toothfish. someone thought Chilean Sea Bas sounded sexier or something..but guess what a toothfish is? A Grouper!

save the grouper save the world.

(do you watch Heroes?'s my favorite tv show this year ;0)

sorry, my blood sugar must be low.

jsull28fl@yaho said...

well if the truth be told it all tastes pretty much like the grease. The folks here love Grouper, or what they believe is grouper. It never has made much difference to me I just order fish, fried, alot,aice.
But you are right there is much more important things happening than what kind of fish we are eating.

Senor Caiman said...


I love the grouper at Harvey's but I'd love to beat the feces out of that Harvey guy.

I am a close personal friend of Mrs. Paul and intend on getting her thoughts on this matter.

Excellent post.

EmmaSometimes said...

Doesn't it all taste like chicken anyway? Or maybe Chicken of the Sea Dolphin? :o)

Kathleen said...

LOL, Emma. Grouper tastes like "free range" chicken. Some call it "Chicken of the Free Sea."

Mr. Caiman, You could rough up Harvey with a little gator tail. ;)

Nihilistic said...

What has happened to the Media?? And why do people just swallow it down? Hook, line and sinker??? I just don't know...

R2K said...

Just shows how people really have no idea what they are eating so it doesnt matter what it is called.

"Yeah, great doorknob fish"

Anonymous said...

A lot of fancy restaurants are also advertising their "Baby Back Ribs." That USED to be a poor man's meal.