The first time I had a grouper reuben was somewhere in Asheville, NC. We had gone to Asheville for a day trip from our cabin in Rutherfordton, NC to go Christmas shopping. We were tired, hungry, and lost after a full day of shopping, so we pulled over and tried to re-group ourselves. We had no idea where we were, but when we looked up from our phones (trying to find the road back to the freeway), we realized we were right in front of a restaurant. It was a sign.
This place was nothing to look at from the outside; in fact, if it wasn’t for a small sign on the door and a full parking lot, we wouldn’t have known it was a restaurant at all. We walked in and headed straight for the bar. It was a cozy little place, with slot machines lining the wall and a few high tops scattered in front of the bar. We seated ourselves and were greeted with a menu. I scanned over the menu and saw the stand-out in big, bold letters in the middle of the menu: Grouper Reuben. That made my mind up immediately, so I was set. When it came out I was not disappointed. The flaky fish, lightly fried with all of the classics of a reuben; swiss cheese, thousand island, and piled high with sauerkraut all on top of toasty rye bread was absolutely delicious. If you like reubens and like fish, then this sandwich is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t necessarily think these items go together, but trust me, after you try this, you’ll definitely be convinced otherwise.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 Tbsp chili sauce
3-4 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
Milk, for dredging
Flour, for dredging
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying
4 grouper filets
8 slices rye bread
4 slices swiss cheese
1-2 Tbsp sauerkraut, per sandwich
Begin by preparing the thousand island dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, chile sauce, and pickle relish. Adjust amounts if necessary to your taste and add salt and pepper. Set in the fridge until ready to use.
Make a dredging station. Fill one shallow bowl or plate with milk and another with flour, salt and pepper. Fill a large skillet with 1/4 inch of oil and heat over medium high heat. Working one piece of fish at a time, dip each filet in the milk and then the flour, shaking off any excess. Repeat with remaining filets.
Fry 1-2 pieces of fish at a time depending upon how large your skillet is. Do not over crowd. When fish are golden brown, about 5 minutes, flip to the other side and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain. Salt immediately. Repeat with remaining fish filets.
If the fish are golden brown but not completely cooked through, put into a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or so to finish cooking.
To assemble the sandwich, spread a little thousand island dressing on one side, place a fish filet, top with cheese and sauerkraut. Spread a little more dressing on the top piece of bread and place on the top. Lightly butter both sides of the sandwich. Repeat with other sandwiches. Heat a skillet over medium heat and brown both sides of the sandwiches. Serve immediately.