How to Cook Snook Fish

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You need little more than salt and pepper to season this flavorful fish.
You need little more than salt and pepper to season this flavorful fish. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

With its white, firm flesh and its limited availability, snook is one of the top culinary fish in southern Florida, where it's also one of the most sought-after sportfish, according to naplesnews.com. You can't buy snook from your local fishmonger or market, since it's illegal to sell or buy this tightly regulated fish. If you’re lucky enough to have caught one or scored fillets from a friend, whether you're pan-frying or grilling snook fillets, just remember to keep your seasonings simple so that you can enjoy the delicious flavor and texture of the fish.

Things You'll Need

  • Three shallow bowls
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Paper towel
  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • Heavy-bottomed skillet
  • Cooking oil or butter
  • Spatula
  • Platter or plate
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon and parsley (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  • Fork

Pan-Frying Snook

Grab three shallow bowls, placing flour in one, egg beaten with water in the second, and bread crumbs in the third. Line the bowls up on your work surface.

Pat the snook fillets dry with a paper towel before dipping them in the flour. Dip the fillets in the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Lay wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet or on your counter. Arrange the breaded fillets on the paper and let them dry for roughly 30 minutes.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once you can feel the heat after passing your hand over it, add your cooking oil or butter.

Add the fillets to the pan once the butter is melted or the oil is shimmering. Don't overcrowd the pan, or you won't get a nice golden crust.

Saute the fish for about three to four minutes before flipping them. Turn the burner down to medium and saute the second side for another three to four minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Transfer the snook to a platter or plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve the fish with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh parsley, if desired.

Grilling Snook

Turn your grill on, setting it to medium or medium-high heat. Your goal is to preheat it to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the snook while the grill's heating up. Pat the fillet dry with a paper towel and lightly drizzle it with cooking oil.

Season the snook on both sides with salt and black pepper. Optionally, you could add a little seafood seasoning or garlic powder. Use a very light touch, since the fish needs minimal extra seasoning.

Spray the grates of your grill with cooking spray once it reaches 400 degrees F, and then turn the burners down to low.

Place the snook fillets on the grill and close the grill's lid. Let the fish cook for four minutes, then turn the fish and closing the lid. Grill the snook for another four minutes, then turn the burners off.

Allow the fish to stay on the grill, with the lid closed, for two more minutes. The flesh should be opaque and lightly flaky when you test it with a fork.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove the skin from the fish before cooking it. Snook didn't get its nickname of "soapfish" for nothing. When it's cooked with the skin on, the flesh takes on a distinctly soapy flavor, rendering the prized snook fairly inedible.
  • Research and obey local snook fishing guidelines, which are typically strict, since snook are highly regulated. For example, there's a very limited snook fishing season that's closed roughly six months out of the year and bag limits of one fish daily. Be sure to get a snook permit and use hook-and-line gear to catch the fish.

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