The name red snapper has been foisted off on just about any fish that is red. However, the FDA insists that only American red snapper, L. campechanus, can be legally shipped interstate bearing the authentic red snapper label. Beware of “snapper” sold on the West Coast; it could actually be rockfish, which has a completely different taste and texture. Red snappers grow to 35 pounds, although 4- to 6-pound fish are most common. Fish weighing 2 to 4 pounds have a metallic, pink skin. As they grow larger, their skin becomes redder. Many of the other snapper species are good eating, but they don’t have the trademark red skin and red eyes of the American red snapper. It also sports large, dog-like teeth, which are what give this fish its snapper name. The species is found from North Carolina to Florida’s “snapper banks,” off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana and down to the Campeche Bank off Mexico. Imports come from Mexico. Snapper is taken with longlines and sometimes by traps and trawls.
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.