Cooking With Local Fish in Panama City Beach – Blackened Grouper Sandwich

grouperIf you go out on a fishing boat charter or just get lucky on the beach surf fishing, you may end up with some amazing fresh local fish that might not survive the trip home.  Some local restaurants offer deals to cook your fish for you but, if you have a kitchen in your accommodation its really worth the time to prepare something for your friends or family yourself. If you’re not planning on fishing, you can still pick up fresh local seafood at local fish markets.   There are numerous types of local fish and seafood you can cook with, in this article we’ll be covering grouper with an easy and flavourful recipe for Blackened Grouper Sandwiches.


Blackened Grouper Sandwich

There are several different types of grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. They are caught trolling or bottom fishing in the deeper waters off-shore. Grouper range in size from the 10s to even 100s of pounds! This recipe is for a Blackened Grouper Sandwich that is excellent for a large lunch or a dinner on the beach. This recipe is versatile. You can cook your grouper sandwiches inside on a skillet, or outside on the grill. Although, you will at least need a skillet or a microwave to melt the butter. We picked a simple (and in our opinion tasty!) spice mixture so if you’re on vacation you don’t have to buy every spice in the store. Feel free to experiment with other spices that you have available. Some popular additions are: Dry mustard, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cumin.  Or to keep things really simple try a store bought ‘blackened’ seasoning.  The rest of the recipe still applies.

Ingredients (serves 4):

4 Good-sized Grouper fillets (around 4-5ozs. and 3/4- 1 in. thick)

4 Sandwich buns (we prefer to use New Orleans’ style po’-boy bread, but any bun will do)

4 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. Paprika

3 tsp. salt

Cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 tsp. Oregano

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 c. finely chopped lettuce

1 medium to large  sliced tomato

1 medium chopped onion

Tartar Sauce (see below for our home made tartar sauce recipe)


Mix all spices together and put on a large plate. Melt butter and allow to cool a bit before handling. Butter should be melted, but careful not to burn yourself. Dip fillets into the butter. Be sure to roll fillets around and cover in butter completely. Next, dip them in your spice mixture, also be sure to cover fillets completely. Now your fillets are ready to be blackened.

If cooking with a skillet, set heat to medium-high. (Ideally, Blackening is done in a cast-iron skillet, but an ordinary pan will do. This process will create a bit of smoke, so be sure to use the vent hood or even cook outside where practical.) Wait for pan to get hot. (If cooking on a seasoned iron skillet, no oil is needed. If using a regular pan, put a small amount of butter on the pan and wait for it to brown before you start) Place fish on pan, cook 1-2 minutes on each side, or until blackened.

If cooking on a grill, set grill medium high to high. Place fish on grill and cook covered 2-3 minutes on each side, or until blackened. Use a wide spatula and take care to avoid breaking the fillets when you flip them, be sure to wait until the bottom side is cooked.

Use any leftover butter to butter your bread and lightly toast on skillet or on grill. Dress and serve.

If you feel like going the extra mile, try our easy-to-make home made tartar sauce recipe!

Ingredients ( makes about 3/4 cup):

3/4 c Mayonnaise

Squeeze of Lemon Juice

1 Tbspn. Sweet Pickle relish

1 Tbspn Chopped onion (you may have this leftover from your sandwiches)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Dash of hot sauce (we prefer Crystal)

Cayenne to taste (for our spice lovers)


Combine all ingredients. Keep chilled. Serve.


Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Check out some great local restaurants on our website


Grouper photo courtesy of Joi

5 Things to bring to the beach for a perfect Labor Day

beachchair1 Cold Drinks – Pack a cooler, or if you’re travelling light, freeze a couple of water bottles overnight and then enjoy ice cold water as they melt throughout the day.  If you pack some alcoholic beverages for your day, be sure to drink plenty of water as well and remember that glass is not allowed on the beaches.  Therefore, bring beer in cans and wine in non-glass containers, you can use wine boxes or the new disposable tetra packs.

2 Snacks – Although there are plenty of excellent beach side restaurants in Panama City beach, you may want to bring along some snacks of your own.  Bring some sliced fruits in a ziplock bag that are cool and refreshing along with some more substantial munchies like nuts, chips and jerkys. Remember to bring an extra bag or two for packing up your trash at the end of the day, these can also come in handy for protecting your personal electronics if you get caught in a surprise Florida rain storm.

3  Chairs and Umbrellas – Chances are if you’re spending the whole day at the beach, just a couple of beach towels won’t cut it.  You’ll end up uncomfortable and probably sunburnt.  A lot of beaches have vendors who can rent you a set of chairs and umbrellas, especially if you’re staying at a beach front condo.  Don’t count on it unless you know  and show up early because they can run out on a holiday weekend.  Otherwise, pack your own, a light set of folding camp chairs, and a small beach umbrella or folding canopy will do the trick.

4 Sun Protection – Always bring plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or higher, check the label for water resistance.  Sunglasses are also a must and insist on 100 UV protection. You’ll also want to bring t shirts and cover-ups, either for when the sun’s too much or if it gets a little cool in the evening.  If you got a little sun in the day, the slightest breeze can feel quite cool at the end of the day.  Hats are great, a regular ball cap or something full brimmed.  You’ll often notice locals and lifeguards in big full brimmed hats and long sleeve tshirts in the afternoon.

5 Entertainment – It’s always good to have something to do while spending your day relaxing on the beach.  Bring some reading material, some of your favorite magazines or that novel you’re trying to finish.  It’s good to have some games too, that people can play together, which can be a simple as a ball to toss around.  Radios are a good idea too, there are lots of new bluetooth enabled speakers that let you stream music from your phone or ipod, some of them are even weather and water resistant.  Be sure to think about your neighbors on the beach though and keep the volume at a respectable level.

Most importantly, bring a smile and remember how great it is to spend your holiday relaxing on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches!

For more info on local restaurants, accommodations and beaches, check out our site