Grouper with Blistered Tomatoes & Fresh Herbs

Paula: I am totally into one-skillet dinners on the grill these days. Whether it’s chops, steaks, or something that catches my eye at the fish counter, there’s something delightful about searing you protein in a preheated skillet, adding a mess of seasonal vegetables, finishing with fresh herbs and an acid like citrus juice or vinegar, and then serving the meal straight from the sizzling pan. Also: I love the firm texture and rich flavor of Gulf Coast Grouper.

Scott: Cooking in a cast iron pan over live fire is one of my favorite things. I love the char and the smoke you can achieve with this method - plus it won’t stink up your kitchen. As a pro tip, test to make sure your cast iron pan will fit on the grill with the lid closed so you can capture some of that yummy smoke flavor.

Paula: Good point; sometimes I need to wrangle the paella pan or skillet with my tongs to close the lid. I can attest that a 15-inch paella pan fits comfortably in a closed PK360. In this recipe and others like it, those minutes in the closed grill allow you to “grill roast” at a high temperature, achieving results like olive oil infused with toasted garlic and dried chile, a crisp, golden brown exterior on the grouper, and jammy, blistered cherry tomatoes that create a sauce, of sorts, for the fish.

Gulf Coast Grouper with Blistered Tomatoes & Herbs

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Gulf grouper fillets, (about 2 pounds)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Fish Monger Seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes or 2 arbol chiles (optional)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (preferably a mix of varieties)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to finish
  • 1 cup of chopped mixed herbs (any combination of parsley, chives, tarragon, oregano, dill, or basil)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Rinse the grouper fillets and then pat dry with paper towels. Place them in a baking dish and drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle the fish with Fish Monger, and then use your hands to evenly distribute the oil and seasonings. Set the fish aside to marinate at room temperature while you prepare the grill. 

Prepare your grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire. Clean and oil the grill grates. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place a large cast iron skillet or a 15-inch paella pan over direct heat and allow it to heat for 10 minutes. 

When you’re ready to cook, pour a generous glug of olive oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Add the garlic cloves and dried chile, if using, and cook until the garlic is lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Place the grouper fillets in the pan in an even layer, and top them with another drizzle of olive oil. Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and cook for 4 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees, add the tomatoes and toss them with the garlic oil, then close the grill and cook for another 4 minutes.

Open the grill, toss the tomatoes and rotate the pan as needed for even heat, and continue cooking until the tomatoes have blistered and become jammy and the grouper flakes easily with a fork. Move the pan to indirect heat, season with additional salt and pepper, as desired, and top with the fresh herbs. Serve warm with lemon wedges.

Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.

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