Notes from the Island Fishmonger

Corvina is similar in texture and taste to group, but at a better price. (submitted photo)

By Scott Dolan

The months following Easter are prime time for Florida’s most well-known edible fish such as grouper and snapper. This is because the border restriction from Mexico is lifted in April and the size of the catch and limits are more lenient. Fish prices will drop and grouper and snapper will be abundant and in season once again.

Stone crab season, however, does come to an end in May, so make sure you indulge yourself with some Florida crab before it’s too late.

As Floridians, we are all familiar with the above-mentioned like snapper and grouper. A very similar fish, that is not as well known, is a fish called corvina which is in the Sciaenidae family — or better known to Floridians as the drum fish family.

Corvina is very similar in texture and taste of a grouper or snapper. If a grouper or snapper were to have a baby, the result would be a corvina. It’s a large, flaky fish which is pinkish when raw but turns white when cooked. Corvina has a sweet, mild flavor and is great for all types of marinades and ceviche.

The reason many have never heard of corvina is because even though it tastes like it was caught in the Gulf of Mexico, it is actually caught in the warm tropical waters of Central America and South America. Corvina is wild-caught in countries such as Nicaragua, Peru, and Costa Rica. It is highly prized as a one of the best edible fish. It is silvery bluish/gray on its back with dark dots on its scales and yellowish fins. It’s harvested by commercial fishing nets and handline.

You can find grouper and snapper daily at Big Water Fish Market and corvina when available, which is often. Corvina is a reasonably priced fish and costs less than grouper and snapper.

Another good option is also tripletail, which is available year-round but not as abundant after stone-crab traps are pulled, seeing as that’s what they like to eat.

Tripletail, grouper, snapper, and corvina are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are great fish to use in ceviche dishes, whether being baked, sauteed, grilled, or even fried.

Chef Daniel Lindsey displays a Peruvian ceviche dish featuring red snapper that is a popular choice at Big Water Fish Market. (photo by John Morton)

Here is a popular Peruvian ceviche recipe I enjoy:

  • 1 ½ lbs. fresh tripletail, grouper, snapper or corvina
  • 1 red onion, thinly chopped
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ½ cup clam juice (optional)
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños cut in half, without seeds and de-veined and finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 sprigs cilantro finely chopped … salt to taste.

Mix all ingredients in the bowl and chill for at least one hour. Serve and enjoy!

Live well … eat fish.