The yellowtail snapper is the most abundant species of snapper native to the Florida Keys.
Because of its availability year round and its white flakey meat with a delicate flavor, it’s one of the most commonly found fish in local restaurants and fish markets.
Florida yellowtail snapper stocks are well managed and for the most part sustainable. The commercial fishery is regulated by size limits, permits, quotas, and no-take zones. The recreational fishery is regulated by size and aggregate bag limits. The primary gear to harvest yellowtail is hook and line, which has little impact on the environment and little bycatch.
Getting its name from the distinct yellow lateral line that starts off narrow near the eye and widens as it reaches the forked, yellow caudal fin (aka tail fin).
Adult yellowtail snappers may reach lengths up to 30 inches and rarely exceed 5 lbs.
Many fish markets display their freshest yellowtail snapper whole, making it easier to notice the quality of freshness. This can be done by simply looking at their eyes. They should be crystal-clear, plump, wet, and shiny, with no sunken features. If the eyes look good, you can bet with reasonable confidence that the fish is fresh and healthy.
Ask to touch the fish. If the fish monger allows it, touching the fish for further signs of health and freshness. It should feel firm, cold, wet, and slippery, but not sticky. When pressed, it should spring back to its natural shape, just like if you were to press on your own flesh. If it doesn’t spring back, it is a sure sign that the meat has softened and is no longer worthy of your money.
If it’s just filets that you are seeking the meat should look fairly translucent and feel firm. If it looks dry and it’s beginning to separate, chances are it’s been in the case too long. Finally, do not be afraid to smell your fish, if it smells fishy, it will probably taste fishy.
When selecting frozen fish, if possible find out how it was frozen.
Frozen fish often gets a bad name because companies and fish mongers wait until a fish has already aged to freeze it. Frozen bad fish is still bad fish. However, if it’s frozen right after it’s caught, it’ll be delicious when thawed. It should be frozen very quickly, preferably as soon as it is killed, and to very cold temperatures, around -22 °F / -30 °C, to minimize ice crystal damage to the tissue.
Like many fish, yellowtail can be cooked whole or fileted with its skin still on or removed.
If cooking whole or with its skin still on, simply ask your fish monger to scale it for you.
Recipe: Easy Keysey Key Lime Seasoned Sautéed Filet of Yellowtail Snapper.
Skillet for sautéing, preferably cast iron or stainless steel
Yellowtail snapper filet, 6 to 8 ounces per person.
Key West Spice Company© Key Lime Seasoning, just enough to sprinkle on both sides.
Oil for sautéing, small amount, I like grapeseed oil due to its high smoking point.
Sprinkle Key West Spice Company© Key Lime Seasoning on both sides of the filet.
Add about a table spoon of oil to your pan and place it on medium high heat.
When the oil is hot, carefully lay the filet going away from you into the pan. This helps prevent hot oil splashing towards you.
Depending on the thickness of your filet, cook for about 3 to 5 minutes then using your spatula carefully flip it over. When the fish is no longer translucent and has a firm solid feel it’s done.
Remove your filet from the pan and place on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
Now Enjoy and Share the Love!