Our favorite time of year has returned to St. George Island — redfish season! This fish is just as interesting as it is delicious, so we’ve rounded up some facts, and, of course, a recipe to celebrate.

Also known as red drum, channel bass, spottail bass (for the distinctive spots on the tail that look like eyes to confuse predators), or just simply red, redfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to be over 40 years old, and in the warm Florida waters, they can grow to be 45 inches long and over 50 pounds! Because of the popularity of redfish, the breed was almost fished out of existence by the mid-1980s. Thankfully, aggressive conservation measures have allowed the red drum to return and thrive.

This mild, flaky, delicate fish can be prepared a variety of ways: fried, sautéed, broiled, baked, or—our favorite—grilled. Due to the flaky texture of the fish, it has a tendency to fall through the grill, so try using a mesh screen. Another way to keep your dinner intact is to cook the fish “on the half shell”—that is, with the scales still present. You simply skip the skinning and cut two fillets from each fish along the backbone, then you’re ready to go. No clean up!

When paired with a fruit salsa, grilled redfish on the half shell is the perfect dish to get you in that island state of mind.

Also included are oven instructions for rainy days, and this recipe can also be used for redfish fillets, if that’s what you’re working with—just reduce the cooking by a few minutes.

Redfish on the Half Shell

Ingredients:

6 redfish fillets, scales and skin left on

Italian salad dressing

Creole seasoning

2 large lemons, thinly sliced

1 large lemon, halved

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the fillets in a pan, scales side down.

Pour Italian dressing generously over the fillets. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes.

Remove fillets from the marinade, draining excess.

Sprinkle with a little with Creole seasoning.

Grill or broil.

On the Grill: Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill the fish for three minutes flesh sides down with the lid closed. We’re going for grill marks here. Flip the fish so that the scales are now on the grill, and place thin lemon slices along this fish fillets. Allow the fish to cook approximately 6-8 more minutes or until just cooked through. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin. Squeeze the remaining half lemon over the fish. Remove from the grill.

In the Oven: Set oven rack to the center of the oven. Place thin lemon slices along the fish. Broil fish, skin side down, for approximately 20 minutes leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin.

 

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 large ripe mango, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup fresh, chopped pineapple

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made a day or two ahead.

Few things are as romantic as a beach sunset with your sweetheart. The sun slips beneath the horizon, the waves roll up on the shore, reflecting the brilliant hues of the last light of day, and—all at once—time seems to stand still. It’s hard not to feel like a love-struck teenager again in those magic hours between day and night, especially in a place as striking as St. George Island, so we’ve gathered our favorite romance spots for sunset seekers.

A classic sunset date is, of course, dinner. On St. George Island, it’s never a matter of choosing whether or not to witness the stunning water surrounding you, but rather choosing between the Gulf of Mexico or Apalachicola Bay. The view from The Blue Parrot’s patio is unparalleled for the Gulf, whereas Paddy’s Raw Bar offers stunning sunsets over the Bay. Back on the mainland in Apalachicola, the no-children policy at Up The Stairs makes it a great spot for a quiet, romantic night out, and their balcony offers a stunning view of downtown and the river.

Another romantic option is a sunset picnic. Pick up some local-caught steamed shrimp (and maybe a bottle of wine!) from the Piggly Wiggly or SGI Fresh Market and then stroll down to the beach. There are plenty of picnic facilities on the public beach, but we recommend doing as the locals do by bringing a blanket or towel. Aside from more options for location, sitting in the sand offers the opportunity to cuddle up and sneak a kiss.

While viewing the sunset from land is always lovely, you can attain a truly magical vantage point from the water. If your honey is on the adventurous side, consider renting a kayak from Journeys of St. George Island or St. George Island Outfitters for an evening on the Forgotten Coast you’ll remember forever.

If the St. George Island Chili Cook-Off has you burning to create a bowl of something to warm you during the cool coastal nights, check out this island-inspired take on the classic soul-soother. With fresh Apalachicola seafood and a dash (or several!) of the official hot sauce of St. George, you can fix a dish that might just be worthy of next year’s competition!

Seafood Chili Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 pads butter
  • 2 cups chopped white onion
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 Teaspoons dried oregano
  • 35 oz Italian plum tomatoes, not drained
  • 16 oz clam juice
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Ed’s Red Hot Sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
  • 12 Littleneck clams
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/2 pound grouper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound Bay scallops
  • Fresh cilantro and shredded pepper jack cheese for serving

Seafood Chili Recipe Directions

Heat butter in heavy saucepan over low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook until tender, usually about 15 minutes. Add garlic and oregano, and cook another 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking up large pieces with a spatula. Stir in the clam juice, wine, chili powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.

Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Add clams and mussels. Cover and cook until shellfish open, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any shellfish that do not open. Gently stir in grouper and shrimp. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Add scallops. Cover and simmer until fish is just opaque, about 3 minutes.

Top with cilantro and/or shredded pepper jack then serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

St. George Island is gorgeous year-round, but cooler temps certainly keep most of us out of the water. While you patiently await the spring to bring you a sunny sigh of relief, warm your soul with the St. George Island Chili Cook-Off. Now in its 35th year, this island-favorite event offers something memorable for everyone.

If you’re out to clinch a solid 3.1 mile-jaunt before you get your fill of the finest chili along the Gulf Coast, the Red Pepper 5K Run will be exactly your speed! You’ll take off on Saturday, March 4, at 8 a.m. right in front of the famed Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe on St. George Island. Get a solid sweat in preparation for your feast of a host of taste bud tingling, belly-warming chili from all over the area.

The piece de resistance of the weekend culminates with the 2017 SGI Charity Chili Cook-Off! Beginning at 11 a.m. on March 4, you can savor the flavors of all sorts of chili. From meaty to beany and hades hot to lip-smacking savory, every single bowl of chili you sample is just $3.00. And every red(bean) cent of the chili sold goes straight to the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department! Celebrate the men and women who serve stunning St. George and treat yourself to unforgettable chili of every variety on the Forgotten Coast! As a bonus, stick around that evening for the Mister Hot Sauce/Miss Chili Pepper Competition. All walks of life come to strut their stuff with the hope of earning the coveted plaque commemorating the piquant contest. Even in the dead of winter, this event is sure to heat things up on the Island, so don’t miss a second of the spicy entertainment!

For more information about attending and participating in these events and more, visit stgeorgeislandchilicookoff.com.

oysters-over-iceGorgeous St. George Island is home to sugary sand and unparalleled respite. However, did you know that in addition to being the place to get away, the Forgotten Coast offers unforgettable dishes all around—specifically, oysters.

Whether fried, charbroiled, grilled, or slurped right from their half shells, oysters are everywhere in autumn. Since the water is reaching cooler temps this time of year, oysters are guaranteed to be fatter and even more full of flavor right now. These mollusks are much more than just delicious—they actually improve the Gulf Coast ecosystem by acting as natural filters for the water!

Oysters help our waters, they create a lucrative industry, and they taste incredible with a little horseradish and hot sauce—here are a few ways you can commemorate everyone’s favorite bivalve:

The Downtown Oyster Roast celebrates with local food and flavor

Now in its twelfth year, Downtown Apalachicola celebrates oysters on Friday, November 4, from 6pm to 9pm. Just $60 will give you access to:

  • Oyster-themed arts and crafts
  • Family fun
  • Dishes from decadent oyster stews to massive fried oyster sandwiches with nearly every preparation in between.

And with live music provided by Joe Hutchinson and a host of oyster delights to try, this annual event is a can’t-miss when it comes to giving the mollusks their due appreciation!

Learn about the best bivalves around at the Oysters Workshop

On November 10 in Eastpoint, Florida, experience an oyster education that extends far beyond their salty flavor! From 1pm to 4pm the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will host a workshop to discuss the health benefits oysters provide for Apalachicola Bay.  They’ll also discuss facts regarding how the oysters improve the quality of water through their unique filtration abilities. In addition, participants will learn what gives the mollusks their noteworthy taste.  You and your family will walk away with a greater understanding of why these shellfish are such an integral part of our culture, ecosystem, and industry.

Feed your mollusk-loving soul at Lynn’s Quality Oysters

Few people know oysters as well as Lynn C. Martina, lifetime Eastpoint local and longtime owner of the oldest licensed oyster house in Florida. 40 years of experience in the seafood industry means that Lynn believes in feeding the soul with good food, treating friends like family, and serving the freshest oysters around. All of the oysters at Lynn’s Quality Oysters come straight from the best beds in Apalachicola Bay.  Her team engages in a daily process of tonging for the tastiest bivalves starting just as the sun rises. In order to ensure freshness, Lynn’s Quality Oysters even has a packing room on site where the oysters are housed once they have been meticulously inspected for quality. The restaurant will even ship you a box of the good stuff overnight so you can show your loved ones at home how much they mean to you!

For more information about Lynn’s Quality Seafood, visit lynnsqualityoysters.com or call 850-670-8796. When you’re there, be sure to try a dozen of the Oyster Poppers, a savory menu staple starring Apalachicola oysters topped with jalapeno, cream cheese, and Greek seasoning.

Say it with stew!

What better way to write a love letter to our famous oysters than by creating a rich and delicious stew in their honor?! Try this simple recipe and share with other oyster enthusiasts. Warning: Leftovers are unlikely!

Ingredients:

1 pint of Apalachicola oysters and their liquid

1 stick of butter

1 green onion, chopped

2 tsp parsley (dried or fresh chopped)

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Ed’s Red Hot Sauce (use more if you’d like more heat—it is an oyster’s best friend, after all!)

2 cups heavy cream or half and half

Oyster crackers

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, cooking over medium-low heat on stove until oyster edges begin to curl.

In a separate pan, scald heavy cream or half and half over low heat, heating slowly until tiny bubbles form at edges of the pan. Be careful not to bring to a full boil!

Add scalded heavy cream of half and half to all other ingredients. Stir, turn down to low until flavors have combined.

Ladle into bowls and top generously with oyster crackers.

Enjoy!


Resort Vacation Properties of St. George Island Florida makes it their mission to champion their community by sharing the old fishermen tales, the area’s mysterious history, the hidden beauty spots along the Forgotten Coast, and highlighting the wonders of this incredible beach island enclave.  St. George Island is a short 80 miles east of Panama City, along the sparkling Gulf Coast of Florida.  We hope you’ll check out our rental properties should your travels ever bring you our way.