09 Jun2010

Gorgeous Groupers…

by Marketman


Nothing like stunning, reef fresh seafood to get your creative juices in the kitchen going… Most folks who head out to the beach for the weekend tend to plan their meals in Manila, shop at a grocery, and transport everything out to the shore. I have increasingly relied on the local market and other sources in the vicinity to make up a majority of our meals while at the beach. This means I tend to bring a wide variety of aromatics, spices, and other ingredients, without knowing what I am going to cook that weekend. But the list is fairly common — we always have olive oil, lemons, chili, fresh herbs, canned tomatoes, eggs, etc. so it isn’t that complicated at all. But the vagaries of weather, fiestas, initiative sometimes lead to lean offerings at the market, and while we have never gone hungry, the pickings are erratic at best.


On some days, however, you just hit the market jackpot so to speak, and this was one of those days. Our first purchase were these three small and medium sized groupers, lapu-lapu or rock cods, total weight just about 1.4 kilos, total price some PHP400 or roughly PHP133 each.


Beautiful fish, incredibly fresh, here photographed on one of those infamous fish pans. Notice how nicely their body shape fits into the pan…


Up next, a wonderful, aromatic, easy recipe for the lapu-lapu that I think fish lovers will totally enjoy…




  1. zaN says:

    A simple Sinigang sa Miso with lots of fresh veggies will do for me but if fresh unripe tamarinds are available that would also do just fine.

    Strawberry grouper in black bean sauce or just a simple grilled grouper.

    Groupers are way to too expensive here and they are not even fresh. Sometimes, I just really want to go home for the fresh seafood available all over the Philippines. I just wonder when..

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:03 am


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  3. bearhug0127 says:

    Sweet and sour lapu-lapu will do just really fine.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:08 am

  4. happyman says:

    Those look so fresh. Can’t wait for your next post to see what came up with. I’m sure it is pretty amazing.
    The first thing I thought I’ll do with these is to make the skin crispy and pour some thai red curry with coconut milk…hmm
    BTW on my first read I thought I read Gourgeous groupies…yikes!!! Need new glasses and phone.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:09 am

  5. Mimi says:

    I would eat it cooked in gently simmered washed rice water, lots of luya, onion, spring onions and pechay with a side dish of ginisang miso with patis. Yum, yum, yum.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:19 am

  6. Lerker says:

    These are lapu-lapu? OMG. I have a different fish in mind when I think lapu-lapu. The silvery kind that look like small tuna.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:37 am

  7. Footloose says:

    Now if that trio is any more fresher, they would be cheeky. Before reliable refrigeration, home cooks were totally dependent on the vagaries of the marketplace. But you learn, adopt yourself and do your best with whatever you may have. Let me see, fresh fish out of water? Best grilled or steamed.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:41 am

  8. Betchay says:

    Picture number 1 is so menacing! Anyway, I just want to ask if there is a difference in taste between a red lapu-lapu and the black one?I dont remember much but my mom told me before that one is preferred by chinese restos than the other one…..is it the black one?

    Jun 9, 2010 | 6:46 am

  9. ntgerald says:

    One more option for me is to steam them.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 7:43 am

  10. millet says:

    so beautiful! learned a simple delicious dish with lapu-lapu from my mom-in-law. it’s a cross between pesang lapu-lapu and fish congee. just saute lots of ginger, some chopped onions and tomatoes in very little oil, then add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup washed rice. add water, let boil until the mixture resembles congee. add the cleaned sliced lapulapu, season with salt and lots of cracked black pepper, add sliced scallions, add some sliced pechay. cook just until the fish turns opaque. perfect for a rainy day!

    Jun 9, 2010 | 8:55 am

  11. junb says:

    Stunningly looking lapu-lapu. Did you open up their jaws or they died in shock :)

    Jun 9, 2010 | 9:06 am

  12. GayeN says:

    Gorgeous indeed! My mouth is watering already hahah

    Jun 9, 2010 | 9:15 am

  13. Chris Davis says:

    You are killing me tonight, MM! First the pusit, now the lapu-lapu… Gorgeous is the perfect adjective for those. For that size, I would prefer sinigang. If they were a bit larger, definitely poached.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 9:35 am

  14. quiapo says:

    Alll these recipes are useful for a grouper originating in Vietnam, about P400 for one the size of the smaller ones in the post . I was thinking of poaching it with a tarragon lemon butter sauce for accompaniment.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 10:10 am

  15. Mari says:

    Grilled lapu-lapu esp. when they look that fresh! Match it with tomatoes, onions, green mango and bagoong…to die for! or better yet just vinegar, a little fish sauce and chili with garlic fried rice….YUMMY!

    Oh MM, even though I read your post and crave all the food that you mention and post in your blog, I am proud to say I have lost weight and am going for more… am lucky I don’t smell the food that you post here.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 10:16 am

  16. isagarch says:

    Those fishies look amazingly fresh! They would go well with your orange clogs …

    Jun 9, 2010 | 10:17 am

  17. kittel says:

    wow…love the color and the freshness of the fish….hmmm,escabeche maybe?or sweet and sour….

    Jun 9, 2010 | 11:18 am

  18. kiko says:

    steamed with ginger & spriong onion would be my choice…plus some light soy and a few drops of sesame oil…yum!

    Jun 9, 2010 | 11:31 am

  19. hong says:

    Those fish are so beautiful that I feel a little sad when I think the charming fish will be cooked for dinner. I enjoy them very much, so bright color!

    Jun 9, 2010 | 11:58 am

  20. joyce says:

    the color of the first picture is cool, bright orange with spots of blue.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 4:14 pm

  21. Connie C says:

    A bed of sauteeed onions and tomatoes on tin foil to wrap the fish , sliced kamias on top of fish slices, some good olive oil to drench the fish and baked briefly in the oven will do it for me. And oh, I miss Palawan already.

    Where are you BettyQ?

    Jun 9, 2010 | 4:58 pm

  22. marilen says:

    Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed as beautiful as these! The description of Alan Davidson in his fishbook Seafood of Southeast Asia is a pale attempt to see one in living color.

    Jun 9, 2010 | 7:40 pm

  23. Hershey says:

    This looks preeeeeettttyyyyyy :D

    Jun 9, 2010 | 8:52 pm

  24. Gerry says:

    Nice looking fish you have there. I’ve always wondered if there’s a difference in taste between the various species of grouper. I think the red ones that are favored by the Chinese, but is it due to taste-texture or just superstition?

    Jun 9, 2010 | 10:47 pm

  25. kyang2x says:

    Lovely. Would taste good in tinuwa (tinola)…I can vaguely remember the sweet taste and aroma of freshly caught lapu-lapu in tinuwa…yum…

    Jun 9, 2010 | 11:16 pm

  26. joey says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous photos MM!

    Jun 10, 2010 | 9:47 am

  27. eej says:

    Loved photo #1. I felt like giving the fish in the middle a big kiss on its mouth :)

    Jun 10, 2010 | 11:18 am

  28. Marketman says:

    eej, hahaha. Others would swim away from it. joey, thanks… funny how produce always seems to look so good in the proper light. Gerry, I think there is a slight difference in texture of different varieties of lapu-lapu, but I am not sure I could tell them apart if blindfolded.

    Jun 11, 2010 | 2:50 am

  29. EbbaBlue says:

    Ito pala ang Lapu-lapu, I came from Pinas last month and stayed in Quezon Province where there’s abundance of local fish. I mainly bought bangos and galunggong. I did not go for those different color fish being sold, hindi ko kasi kilala. And even the Maya-maya, gosh if I just new it is the red snapper which is my favorite here in Texas bibilhin ko yon palagi. Oh, well, next year maybe sa susunod kong trip. This time, I will have a laptop, so I have an access to your site, I will try cooking some of your delicacies. Like a neighbor sold me 2 kilos of newly dugged ube, I just cooked it the old fashion way – gata and condensed milk. Came out ok. Also there it was langka season, almost all the neighbors have bountiful fruit in their trees.

    Jun 12, 2010 | 9:37 pm


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