This weekend we decided to try Smooth Back Pufferfish, also known in Florida as Rabbitfish. Rabbitfish aren't commercially targeted, they are a by-catch product from snapper, grouper and other fisheries. Properly cleaning this species before sale is very important. The dorsal fins located on the top of the fish and the poisonous sac located in the belly must be removed to prevent the flesh from being contaminated and potentially dangerous. The bladder and organs are also typically removed before shipment.
Once the poisonous parts are removed for safety, the succulent flesh can be enjoyed sauted, baked, or grilled. It presents gorgeously on a plate and its flavor is sweet and firm, much similar to that of monkfish, but more tender. These fish were brought to us from the fishing vessel Honey Bee and harvested out of John's Pass, located in the Gulf of Mexico. They were a byproduct of the long-line grouper fishery working in the same area.
We have a limited availability of Rabbitfish this weekend so, if you are game, swing by the market to get a glimpse and taste of this delightful fish. Its flavor is distinctive, toothsome, and almost worth dying for...but, of course, you have nothing to worry about.