Grouper Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

A great use for grouper that's often overlooked

Two grouper patties on a plate.
Capt. Ryan Harrington’s grouper cakes with red pepper sauce is a winner. Jon Whittle / Marlin

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Waste not, want not: The rich, succulent meat that is often overlooked by simply filleting your grouper lies mostly in the head, and there’s lots of it. St. Petersburg, Florida’s Capt. Ryan Harrington developed this smoky and savory rendition of pan-seared fish cakes that is both decadent and, dare we say, perfect, when served with a bright blood orange sangria.

Ingredients | Serves 4

For the Cakes

  • 1 lb. grouper head, collar and cheek meat
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Bear & Burton’s W Sauce
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped and divided
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lime wedges and chopped parsley, for serving

For the Sauce

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • ½ shallot, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Start by splitting grouper heads. Remove the ­collars, and place on a 225-degree smoker or grill for 45 minutes; remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Peel back the skin from the heads to expose the meat, pulling the meat from the skull and placing it in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add eggs, mayo, W Sauce, parsley, red ­pepper and breadcrumbs. Mix by hand until i­ncorporated, and form into round, palm-size patties about 1-inch thick.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place fish cakes in the skillet, and cook for approximately 3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  5. For the sauce, blend mango, red pepper, lime juice, jalapeño, shallot, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Drizzle the sauce over the warm fish cakes, and top with chopped ­parsley. Serve with a lime wedge.

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