04 Jun Grouper: Treasure of the Sea
As the Spanish saying roughly goes, “Seek from the sea grouper, and from the land, lamb”, a recommendation that seems conceived especially for Ibiza, considering that, in years gone by, lamb, along with kid goat, pork and fowl, were the only meats available on the island, while grouper was held as the best fish that could be served at any Pitiusan table.
Today, tastes have changed and there are those who prefer John Dory, red scorpionfish or dentex, but grouper continues to be a star thanks to its firm yet tender flesh and its delicate flavor. At Es Torrent, it is one of our most frequently served fish and is almost always present in our “bullits” (stewed fish), mixed grills and paellas. Many of our customers also like it oven-baked.
This species is noted for its brown color, varying from lighter to darker shades and sometimes bearing spots, as well as its powerful lower jaw, which juts out distinctively. Restaurants usually serve specimens that have reached one kilo in weight, but these fish can live up to 50 years, measure up to a meter and a half in length, and weigh over 50 kilos. Some have even been caught in the Mediterranean weighing over 100 kilos.
The grouper is a solitary fish that lives in a delimited area with a good number of cubbyholes to hide in, though it usually has a main hole it considers home. It feeds on smaller fish, some crustaceans and, above all, octopi and cuttlefish. It reproduces in summer, a time when sexually mature individuals tend to gather in a given area about 15-30 meters deep. In the course of its life (after 10 or 12 years) the grouper will change sex, going from female to male.
In Ibiza, it is usually the most sought-after fish in the marketplace and the first kind to sell out. The variety of grouper caught in local waters is distributed by the guaranteed brand Peix Nostrum, with its characteristic yellow label, under the auspices of the island’s two guilds: Eivissa and Sant Antoni. No one should leave Ibiza without having tried this delicacy. Enjoy!