Grouper “On the Half Shell”

By: The Local Palate
Grouper being lathered in sauce before being cooked from Chubby Fish

This is an easy, flavor-packed way to serve freshly caught grouper, especially since you don’t have to worry about scaling it. Simply filet each fish, bathe it in butter, and cook skin-side down. (If you prefer more heat, amp up the butter with a bit of chile paste.) Serve family style with romesco on the side and let everyone dig in. This recipe works for triggerfish, grouper, tilefish, or any other fish with a large, flaky texture.

recipe heading-plus-icon


Serves 4 to 6

  • Salt
  • 4 fish filets, such as grouper, triggerfish, or tilefish, with skin on and scales intact (see headnote)
  • Romesco for serving (recipe below)
  • Chile butter:
  • 8-10 Calabrian chiles, stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • Romesco
  • *Makes 1 Quart
  • 1 quart dried guajillo peppers, stems removed
  • 1 pint cubed bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 5 red peppers
  • 7 roma tomatoes
  • 1 Spanish onion, trimmed, unpeeled
  • 8 garlic cloves, trimmed, unpeeled
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika

Make the chile butter

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times until fully incorporated. Set aside. 

Make the Romesco

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add guajillo peppers. Remove from heat and let steep until peppers are softened, stirring occasionally for about 3 to 4 minutes. Strain peppers, reserving the cooking liquid, and transfer peppers to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, add – ing a little of the water to loosen as needed to make a puree. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to create a smooth puree. (This will yield about a pint; save the extra for another use.) Set aside. 
  2. Toss cubed bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and toast in the oven until just crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. 
  3. Meanwhile, place red peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the onion can be easily pierced with a cake tester or knife, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. 
  4. Using paper towels or a dish towel, remove peels from onion, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Remove seeds from peppers and tomatoes. Place vegetables in a food processor and blend until chunky. Add 4 tablespoons of guajillo puree, toasted bread, almonds, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and continue blending until incorporated. (It should still have some texture to it.) Season to taste with sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper before serving. 

Make the fish:

  1. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the fish, then rub a generous amount of chile butter over the flesh of each filet. 
  2. Heat a grill to medium. Place filets skin-side down on grill grates. Cook until flesh is cooked through (time will vary depending on the thickness of the filet). Cover fish as needed to increase heat and speed up the cooking process. Remove and serve at once.
  • Recipe By
    James London of Chubby Fish in Charleston
  • Contributing City

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