Red snapper is a very popular fish, and for good reason. It's full-flavored without being too fishy, firm-fleshed, and a really pretty fish to look at. It also lends itself to a variety of cuisines and ways of preparation.
There are a couple problems with red snapper, however. One is that it is very expensive; worth it for a special meal, but for many of us a little too steep to include in our weekly meal plans. This leads pretty much directly into the other two problems:
It's over-fished, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, which is where most domestic red snapper is caught, are working under a recovery plan. Stocks are not expected to rebound until 2033, though. The Monterey Bay Aquarium suggests ruby snapper, pink snapper, and squirrelfish snapper as good alternatives.
And because of the expense and high demand for the fish, "fish fraud" is a huge problem with red snapper. Other, less expensive fish like rockfish are often sold as red snapper. In some states it's legal to do so, but there's only one true red snapper and it commands its premium price for a reason.
If you're up for a special treat and can find the real thing (try a real fish market, if you have one in your town) red snapper is worth it; otherwise, there are plenty of other delish fish.
Have you tried red snapper?
Image via Monterey Bay Aquarium.