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