Unseasonably warm temperatures starting in April this year have brought Dolphin (Mahi-mahi, not Flipper) in early, with numbers and sizes way up over May of last year.  Our guests at The Tropical Inn are returning 6-hour trips offshore with bags full of fillets and tales of 40 to 50 fish caught, some bulls weighing as much as 50 pounds! 

Tarpon are migrating, with large numbers being caught, especially in the early morning and late afternoon in both the Atlantic and the Gulf

And it’s finally Grouper season again!  Bottom fishing has been fast and furious, with 25-pound Black Grouper (my favorite!) being hooked, and Yellowtail Snapper catches in abundance.

Here’s a great grouper recipe from Tom McGuane, who wrote and directed Ninety-Two in the Shade, a novel-turned-movie about Key West:

Marinate 4 grouper fillets (about one and a half pounds) in 1 cup of sour-orange juice (available bottled in the Hispanic section of your food store) — or fresh here in the Keys in January and February — for one hour.  Remove, reserving the juice, and dry with paper towels, then marinate in 1/3 cup of milk for about 15 minutes.  Remove and  dredge in 1/4 cup of flour, shaking off the excess.

Mix 1/2 cup chopped scallions and a tablespoon of crushed garlic, then saute in a blend of 1/4 cup peanut oil and 1/4 cup olive oil.  When the scallions and garlic just start to brown, drain them out with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Put the fish in the pan and fry until golden on each side (about 10 minutes for a 1-inch fillet).  Remove to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Melt a stick of unsalted butter in the frying pan, stirring constantly.  Add the reserved scallions, garlic, and sour-orange juice.  Let warm a bit, then spoon over the filets.  Garnish with a slice of lemon and/or orange and a sprig of flat-leaf parsley.  Enjoy!

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