6 Seafood Recipes Inspired by the Florida Keys

Staff Writer
The Keys has so many tasty catches, including grouper, hogfish, snapper, and conch — a local favorite
fish taco

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While the Florida Keys may be known best for sunshine and laid back living, don’t forget their robust fishing industry, which results in some of the best seafood money can buy.

“There are so many great things about living in Florida, but one of the best is the availability of fresh seafood,” says pro angler and Team Toyota athlete Terry Scroggins, who’s known for bass fishing and his cooking. Scroggins is sharing one of his favorite recipes: Crab topped grouper.

The Keys has so many tasty catches, including grouper, hogfish, snapper, and conch — a local favorite.

“Nothing says the Florida Keys more than conch,” says chef and cookbook author Bobby Stoky, who is also proprietor of many Upper Keys restaurants, including Sundowners Restaurant; Senor Frijoles Restaurant; Ballyhoo’s Seafood Grille; and Marker 88 Restaurant. “The King Conch is the official shell of Florida, and people who were born in the Keys are referred to as conchs.”

Dario Olivera Executive Chef at Oltremare Ristorante at Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada calls conch “a culinary staple and cultural icon in the Keys,” noting that, “Key West is known as the ‘Conch Republic.’

“Although commercial harvesting of conch has been outlawed in Florida since the 70’s, conch fritters, conch chowder, and cracked conch are regularly found on restaurant menus,” he says.

Another popular Keys’ fish is lionfish. Acclaimed seafood chef in the Southeast, Tenney Flynn, chef and owner of GW Fins in New Orleans is an avid diver and was first introduced to diving in the Florida Keys during a Lionfish Rodeo. Ever since, it’s been his “mission to kill as many of these pervasive species that are wrecking the entire underwater ecosystem.”  

Still lionfish is a delicious species and chef Flynn has responded by serving up lionfish tacos.

Many chefs find appetizer and entrée inspiration from Florida Keys’ fish. From casual taco plates to dressed up dinners like cracked conch or fried snapper, savory seafood dinners are easy to cook and even easier to enjoy.

If you can’t get to the Florida Keys or you just want to prepare Keys-inspired coastal cuisine at home, read on for six fresh fish recipes.

Crab-Topped Grouper Recipe

“Grilling grouper filets and topping them with crab is one of my absolute favorite seafood dishes to make,” says Scroggins. “It will impress your dinner guests and it’s so easy to do.”

This recipe is courtesy of Pro Angler and Team Toyota athlete Terry Scroggins

Conch Egg Rolls with Key Lime-Wasabi Aioli

“Almost every restaurant in the Florida Keys has conch on their menu either as conch chowder, conch fritters, cracked conch, or conch steak,” says Stoky, whose conch egg rolls with key lime-wasabi aioli is served at his restaurant, Mile Marker 88 in Islamorada.

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Bobby Stoky and served at Mile Marker 88

Cracked Conch Francaise

“Our preparation puts an Italian twist on the firm yet tender flesh with the classic Francaise preparation,” says Chef Olivera.

This recipe is courtesy of Dario Olivera, Executive Chef at Oltremare Ristorante at Amara Cay Resort

Whole Fried Yellowtail Snapper Recipe

While this is not a typical Keys-inspired recipe, Chef William Ryan chose it since, “yellowtail can be caught year-round in the Keys.” The dish is served at Marathon, Fla.’s Hawks Cay Resort’s new-build marina restaurant, Angler & Ale.
This recipe is courtesy of William Ryan, Executive Chef at Hawks Cay Resort

Marinated Fish Tacos with Goat Cheese Guacamole and Heirloom Tomato-Avocado-Watermelon Radish Salsa Recipe

GW Fins’ Tempora Fried Lionfish Tacos Recipe

These lionfish tacos can be made on the beach and always remind Chef Flynn of the flavors of the Florida Keys and finding his passion for diving there.

This recipe is courtesy of Tenney Flynn, chef and owner of GW Fins in New Orleans

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