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Written by co-founder Jennifer Sill.

A Guide to Ordering the BEST seafood while on Vacation
And a few of my favorite recipes

Last week I went on a wonderful vacation with my husband. We went back to the place where we met: Southwest Florida. It. Was. Wonderful.

We were there with a group of friends also from the Midwest. I realized that I had learned a very important lesson while living in Florida. This time I was able to teach these other Midwesterners the same lesson: How to order fish.

When I was young, I pretty much hated fish. I only knew talapia that my mom made every once in a while and Long John Silvers. Sometimes on special occasions, we’d go to Red Lobster. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those places, but after living in Florida, I found out fish can be AMAZING.

Here’s what you have to ask: “What’s your fresh, local?”

That simple question will get you the best they have to offer.


Because some restaurants sell expensive fish banking on the fact that most visitors believe any fish is great on the coast. But you just don’t know where it has come from. It could be the same fish you’d get in the middle of Nebraska. If it isn’t fresh, it will likely have been frozen at one point. If it isn’t local, it could be at least a few days old. The freezer and time take a great deal away from the way a fish tastes and its texture. The catch of the day isn’t always. It is just a way restaurants choose to sell fish — again making people think they’re getting something caught right off shore. Nope. There were a bunch of places we went this past week that fessed up and said they didn’t have any ‘fresh, local’. You’ll get them every time if you know the right question to ask.

You may also want to research which fish are ‘in season’ in a particular area. But the ‘fresh, local’ question will get you the best they’ve got to offer no matter what.

On that note, here are a few of my favorite dishes from our vacation. The recipes are ‘close’ to the same thing, but I’m not making any promises. Enjoy!!

Blackend Grouper (or Mahi) Tacos (Found on Pinterest. )

1 lb flaky white fish filets (We ate Grouper AND Mahi at different times.)
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
8 corn tortillas
shredded cabbage


For the mango salsa:
1 mango, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp kosher salt


For the chipotle aioli:
1/3 cup good mayonnaise
3 tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp chopped chipotle in adobo sauce
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 a lime


To make the mango salsa, combine ingredients in large bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let flavors meld.

For the chipotle aioli, combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until ingredients are well combined. Place in a small serving dish and set aside.

To prepare the fish, brush fish filets with melted butter. Sprinkle fish generously with seasoning. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add fish and cook, without moving, for 3 minutes. Flip filets, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Remove from heat, flake the meat with a fork, and set aside.

To assemble the tacos, warm corn tortillas in a skillet for a few moments. Pile fish into tortillas, followed by the chipotle sauce, the mango salsa, and the shredded cabbage. Serve immediately.


Blackend Grouper (or Mahi) Sandwich
(Recipe from the grocery chain Publix)

1 medium tomato (rinsed)
1 1/2 lbs grouper (or mahi) fillets (thawed, if needed)
cooking spray
2 tablespoons blackening seasoning
4 Bakery Kaiser rolls
4 tablespoons tartar sauce
8 lettuce leaves (rinsed)


1. Preheat 2-sided tabletop grill. Cut tomato into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut fish into 4 portions. Coat both sides of fish with cooking spray then sprinkle with blackening seasoning.
2. Place fish on grill (wash hands); close lid and cook 5 minutes or until fish is opaque and separates easily with a fork. (If using regular grill, double cooking time, turning once.) Cook time may vary depending on thickness of fish.
3. Cut rolls in half, if needed. Spread tarter sauce on bottom half of each roll. Top with lettuce and then tomato slice.
4. Add fish; top with remaining lettuce and top half of roll. (Assembling with lettuce next to the roll helps to prevent soggy bread.) Serve.


Where we ordered the sandwich. R.C. Otters. Captiva, Florida. Also the site of our first date.


The Snook (also known as Lox and Bagels)

 2 Bagels
Cream Cheese
Smoked Salmon (ask your at your grocery store.) (This is called Lox)
Capers (by the pickles)
Red Onions – sliced
Tomato – sliced

Toast the bagel.
Top with cream cheese, capers, onions, lox, and tomatoes


Where we ordered the bagels. "Tucked Away" on Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Our first time here!!

You can buy blackening seasoning in the seasoning isle, but for those of you who like to do it all yourself, I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com:  
 Tom’s Blackened Seasoning Recipe




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Jen Sill

For nearly 15 years Jennifer spent her time clawing her way up the chain as a television producer and newsroom manager. She's helped create and produce newscasts and talkshows. Just as she was realizing some of her professional goals, she decided to give it all up for a family. Although Jennifer has lived in Miami and L.A., she has always called Nebraska home. She always knew she wanted to raise her children in the Midwest. Jennifer is now trying to find her way in a new world. She may be frenzied and frazzled sometimes, but she would not give up being a mom to her almost four year old and her almost two year old for anything.

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