3tablespoonssafflower oil(or canola, grapeseed or avocado oil)
2tablespoonskey lime juice
Mix the red onion slices with some salt, then toss with the lime juice and set aside. Remove the outer leaves from the head of romaine lettuce and use for something else. Chop the hearts into pieces you'd want to eat with a fork and set in a large bowl.
Slice the hearts of palm and add to the bowl, along with the remaining salad ingredients. Toss everything with the olive oil and salt lightly. You'll add the red onions and lime juice right at the end when you are ready to serve.
Before you even start the salad, set the fish out on a cutting boar or plate and salt well. Let this sit while you make the salad.
Get a steel or cast iron pan hot over a strong burner. Dry the fish thoroughly while this is happening. When the pan is hot, add the safflower oil. The moment you see a wisp of smoke rise from the oil, set the pieces of grouper in the pan, jiggling the pan as you do so. This is important or the fish will stick to the pan.
Let the fish cook for 1 minute on medium-high heat. It should sound like bacon sizzling, so adjust the heat accordingly. Tilt the pan and spoon the hot oil over the pieces of fish until they turn opaque, then for about 30 seconds more.
When the bottom of the fish has begun to brown nicely, gently test to see if the fish will come up off the pan. If most of it will, you are good to go. If not, turn the heat down a little and let the fish continue cooking, checking every 30 seconds or so. The fish will release eventually. When it does, add the butter and spoon it all over the fish as it froths.
Remove the fish to a cutting board, crispy side up. Add the lime juice to the pan, turn off the heat, and swirl to combine. Serve this over the fish alongside the salad.
Keep in mind that this recipe works not only with all sorts of grouper, but also any firm white fish, freshwater or saltwater.
Keys to Success
The fish needs to be dry, and the thicker it is, the closer to room temperature it needs to be. The early salting seasons it well.
The pan and oil need to be hot, and in that order.
Never forget to jiggle the pan as the fish is hitting it. This prevents sticking.
If you can't find key limes, regular limes work fine.
If you don't like butter, use some other nice oil at the end, like a really good olive oil or a nut oil.
I use English cucumbers because their skins are not bitter. Any cucumber will do.
Serve this with a nice white wine and either bread, grits or rice.