also known as Mulloway, Goliath Grouper, Ghol fish
What is a Jewfish?
Jewfish (Epinephelus itajara) is a gray-green, blackish, or brown coarse-scaled type of fish usually found in tropical saltwater.
- This fish belongs to the grouper family and is also known as the Goliath Grouper.
- These fish can grow very large, reaching over 10 ft (3m) and a weight of more than 1,000 lbs (454kg).
The popularity and market demand for Black Jewfish has increased in recent years. This is due to their swim bladders, which the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries estimates are worth between $500 and $900 per kilogram.
According to the Queensland Government, the top species of jewfish are:
- Black Jewfish
- River perch
- Scaly Jewfish
- Silver Jewfish
Origin of jewfish
The precise origin of jewfish is not known, however, it has been traced back as early as the 8th century. The Christian Bible offers an account of a fish that swallowed the prophet Jonah whole. Nonetheless, The Bible did not specify the exact kind of fish. As the this is so big, many believed it was responsible for the act. William Dampier, an English tourist who traveled around the world three times, wrote about this fish in his 1697 book, A New Voyage Around The World.
Dampier described this fish as the perfect fish and wrote that the English likely give it that name because it has scales and fins. He also wrote that the it was a kosher creature adored by Jewish people in Jamaica. In 2001, a team of scientists successfully appealed to have the name “Jewfish” changed to “Goliath Grouper” because they felt the original name was being used abusively.
This fish can be used in a variety of dishes. In the kitchen, it can be pan-fried, roasted, baked, and grilled. Some flavors that are well-suited to this fish include tomato, capsicum, curry, and citrus.
A 100g serving size of this fish offers:
This fish is rich in nutrients and offers the following health benefits:
- It reduces high blood pressure.
- It improves brain function, due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids.
- It can protect the body against inflammation.
- It may prevent skin wrinkles.
- It can help protect the eyes.
- It may improve digestion.
- It helps in the building of strong muscles.
Due to high fishing pressure from commercial and recreational activities, several states have laws that limit the fishing of the jewfish to prevent the extinction of the species. Since the 1990s, the harvesting and possession of this fish have been restricted in both the state and federal waters off Florida. Fishers are required to quickly return these fish to the water if, by accident, they catch one. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has recommended handling techniques for this fish before releasing it back into the water.
This fish, like every other type of fish, is best stored in a freezer. If properly stored, it can last from 3 to 12 months. Should you want to consume the fish within two days, refrigerating it is ideal. Before storing the fish, it’s best to clean it. Some people choose to fillet the fish before freezing it.
If you intend to eat this fish after a catch, it’s recommended to store it alive in a cooler, and fill the cooler with the same water you fished from. Fish is best stored in airtight containers, or wrapped in an aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper.
This fish is not only delicious but also nutritious. Here are some recipes to try out:
- Mulloway Cutlets Baked with Lemon & Rosemary
- Coconut Jewfish
- Baked Jewfish
- Seared Jewfish with Mash and Lemon Nut Butter
- Pan-fried Fish Cutlets
The FDA has no regulations for this particular fish, however, they do classify fish as food and enforce regulations for the registration of food facilities. The FDA defines fish as a fresh or saltwater animal life intended for human consumption. They also regulate the principal display panel of packaged food and designate the permitted terms for ‘fish protein’. Furthermore, the FDA regulates the nutrition labeling of raw fish.
“Groupers.” Seaworld.org, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, seaworld.org/animals/facts/bony-fish/groupers/
Sibson, Ellie. “’More Lucrative than Abalone’: Jewfish Dominate Black Market to Meet Asia Demand.” ABC News, ABC News, 31 Aug. 2019, www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-01/black-jewfish-bladder-blackmarket-queensland-fisheries/11457106.
Simonds, Joseph. “Top 5 Myths About How The ‘Jewfish’ Got Its Name.” saltstrong.com, Salt Strong Fishing Club, 10 May 2019, www.saltstrong.com/articles/how-did-jewfish-get-its-name/
Das, Kristina. “Here’s How Eating Jewfish Can Be Beneficial for Your Health.” The healthsite.com, Healthsite blog, 7 Aug. 2018, www.thehealthsite.com/news/ghol-fish-heres-how-eating-jewfish-can-be-beneficial-for-your-health-kd0818-589682/.
“CFR – Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21.” Accessdata.fda.gov, U.S Food & Drug Administration, 1 Apr. 2019, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=123.3&SearchTerm=fish