Have you tried hogfish? The local catch tastes sweeter than grouper, is flakier than dolphin, and is as rich as scallops. "It's the perfect fish — not firm or tough. It just melts in your mouth," says Rebecca Franks, owner of Fish Fish Restaurant Bar & Market in North Miami and an Islamorada resident.
Indeed, hogfish would be perfect — if only catching it were easier. On clear days, divers spear Lachnolaimus maximus off coral reefs. But during bad weather, spearing becomes impossible. "When it's blowing 30 to 40 knots, a diver can't go into the water and get a hogfish," says Bobby Mongelli, who has owned Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island for 12 years.
So restaurants get hogfish from another source. During lobster and crab season, it is caught in traps, and fishermen gain some valuable bycatch.
If you get a hogfish craving in Miami, try it at Fish Fish. There, chef Oscar Quezada scores the flesh, seasons it in flour, and deep-fries it until it's golden and crisp. Topped with scallions, diced tomatoes, and key lime butter sauce, it might just turn hogfish into your favorite local catch.