Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways

In February, I went with my family to Exuma, Bahamas.  We had lots of great experiences, and the memories of Exuma have come back to Minnesota with us in many forms, including the food.  We were fortunate to come back home with a cooler full of beautiful whole Yellowtail Snapper.  I wish I could say they are a part of my angling adventures, but we focused more on deep sea fishing.

Our last day on the island, I talked with Harris about bringing some fish home.  He is a local that spends lots of time on the water.  We spent a day with him catching lobster, conch and grouper and had an amazing shore lunch with him as well.  Harris said that he would see what he could do, and a bit later came back with two coolers full of beautiful Yellowtail Snapper (one for our family and another for the family we were traveling with).

I haven’t cooked whole fish in quite a while, probably since a trip to Mexico several years ago.  I’m not sure what exactly I was thinking fixing the Yellowtail three ways for my first attempt in a long time, but that’s what I did.

Grilled Citrus Herb Yellowtail Snapper

The first version I made was a citrus herb stuffed Yellowtail Snapper grilled whole. This was a pretty simple preparation.  First, I made sure the Snapper was scaled and cleaned well, and cut a few slits in the sides to add in more flavor.  Once done, I stuffed them with the following mixture:

  • Orange slices cut thin
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Green onion chopped fine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil (about a tbsp)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, let them sit for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.  Then stuff the cavity in the snapper full of the mixture and also rub the outside of the snapper with some of the liquid.  I took extra orange slices and wedged them into the slits in the fish as well to add extra flavor.

Grill on medium heat until cooked.  Mine took about 4 minutes per side, but I’m using smaller fish.

Grilled Habanero Salt Yellowtail Snapper

With this preparation, I cleaned the snapper in the same way as above.  Once clean, I used an absolutely fantastic combination that we were introduced to on Exuma.  It is as simple as it gets, but absolutely fantastic if you like a little heat:

  • 1 Cup of sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped Habanero pepper, seeds removed.  (use gloves so you don’t burn your skin)

Just mix those two ingredients together to incorporate the Habanero throughout the salt and store in a container for a few days to incorporate the flavor throughout the salt.  For the Yellowtail Snapper, I drizzled a bit of Olive Oil over the fish and then lightly rubbed the skin, slits and cavity of the fish with the mixture.

Grill on medium heat until cooked.  Mine took about 4 minutes per side, but I’m using smaller fish.

Salt Crusted Whole Yellowtail Snapper

The last preparation was something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.  I’ve seen it done on television, and it was time to give it a try.  This preparation involves completely crusting the whole fish inside a salt mixture and baking it until the salt has formed a hard crust, locking in all the great flavors while the fish cooks.  Since I hadn’t done it before, I looked at Yellowtail Snapper Baked in a Salt Crust recipe from Tyler Florence.  Like all of my kitchen adventures, I never follow a recipe exactly, but I had no idea how to do the salt crust, so I needed some guidance for that part.

Preheat oven to 350.

Before crusting the fish (same preparation as the previous two, but do not make slits in the skin), I stuffed the cavities full of the following mixture:

  • Thin sliced lemons
  • Fresh thyme
  • Green onion
  • Chopped sage (just a couple leaves)
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp of Olive Oil

For the crust: (taken directly from Tyler Florence)

  • 4 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • (I doubled the batch because I was doing 3 smaller fish and it was about right)

In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold in the salt to make a paste then fold in the remaining thyme leaves. Smear the salt paste over the entire fish and roast for 35 to 45 minutes. The egg whites will form a hard crust. Gently crack the shell with a spoon and lift off the salt crust.

What I learned is that it works well to made a bed of the salt mixture on the baking sheet, lay the fish on it and then cover the fish entirely.

The Verdict

All three of the preparations were very good.  My personal favorite was the most simple of the three, and that was the Habanero Salt Yellowtail Snapper.  The heat didn’t overpower the delicate fish, but imparted good flavor into the flesh.  I squeezed a bit of lime juice over it to finish it off and it was just delicious.

Second for me would be the Citrus Herb Yellowtail Snapper.  I really liked the flavor the orange brought to the fish.  It was light and refreshing.  There was a hint of cilantro as well, but I didn’t really pick up on the other flavors of the stuffing mixture.  I’ll do this one again for sure.

Last but definitely not least was the Salt Crusted Yellowtail Snapper.  It was delicious for sure, but I really don’t think that it was any better than the other two, and the preparation took more time and it was a bit more of a mess, so for that reason only, I’d say it was number three.  Another consideration might be that my Yellowtail Snapper are smaller than the one Tyler Florence used in his recipe, so maybe with a larger fish that has more meat, this might be a better way to go.  The crust really locked in the flavors and kept the fish tender and moist.

I have lots of Yellowtail Snapper left, so if you have a great recipe for them, I’d love to give it a try, let me know in the comments below.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by larry stivers on April 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

    We are going to ber in Exuma first week in may and would like to find out how to get in tough with Harris to do some fishing? Could you give us a number for him so we can contact him?

    Larry Stivers


  2. You bet. Look for an email later today.


  3. […] About Me « Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways […]


  4. Posted by Peter C on October 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Sorry to disappoint you but the picture you have are not yellow tail snapper but equally as good lane snapper.


  5. Ha, thanks Peter. My first time with Yellowtail…I mean Lane Snapper. Agree though, delicious!


  6. […] Source: Yellowtail Snapper Recipe – Three Ways […]


  7. Posted by munchkinontheroad on November 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    We are fairly new to WordPress which is why we this reblog is four years late:)
    As a thank you for your three great sounding recipes for Yellowtail (especially, the Habanero I know my husband will love!) I am sending you one of my favorite recipes for delicate white fish fillets…
    Yellowtail Snapper Tacos w/ Baja Sauce

    Baja sauce ingredients:
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    2 teaspoons taco seasoning
    1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded & diced
    Juice from 2 limes
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Taco ingredients:
    1 pound Yellowtail Snapper fillets, cut into 1 and a 1/2-inch thick slices
    2 bottles Mexican beer
    1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
    Canola oil
    1 cup flour* (*to assure extra crispiness, use 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill stoneground white rice flour)
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup Mexican beer
    1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
    12 flour small tortillas
    3 cups finely shredded Savoy cabbage
    limes (2 you will use for Baja Sauce and you will need several wedges to squeeze over fish after it’s fried)


    For the Baja Sauce:
    Combine all ingredients; stir well. Refrigerate until ready for use.

    Next place fish in a 1 gallon size plastic storage bag. Combine bottle of beer and taco seasoning in a bowl. Pour into bag with fish; seal and chill for at least two hours.
    Preheat oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat.
    Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Whisk in 1 cup of beer and additional hot sauce (optional). Drain fish in bag well and then dip into batter and cook in hot oil for about 4 minutes or until done. Repeat until all the fish is cooked (do not crowd fish pieces when frying).
    Drain on paper bags or paper towels.
    Place 2 to 3 pieces of fish on each tortilla. Squeeze a lime wedge lime over fried fish; top with shredded cabbage. Drizzle with baja sauce and serve immediately.


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