If your idea of Gulf seafood is limited to oysters, shrimp, and snapper, allow Texas Seafood: A Cookbook and Comprehensive Guide (University of Texas Press, November 1) to expand your universe. “Comprehensive” is an understatement for this book, by husband-and-wife team PJ and Benchalak “Apple” Srimart Stoops. The Houston fishmongers, chefs, and sustainable-seafood advocates spend more than half of the 320-page cookbook describing almost every edible creature one encounters in the Gulf of Mexico, from Atlantic moonfish to angel wing clams, before they get to a single recipe.

After the insightful fish facts and tips on catching, buying, and prepping seafood, the recipes are a revelation, from PJ’s charming meditations—“Oysters With No Adornment” calls for oysters, an oyster shucker, and “one companion who loves oysters as much as you do”—to dishes inspired by the Gulf region’s diverse culinary influences, like this Thai-Texan mackerel dish topped with a fish-sauce-infused salsa fresca. Texas Seafood proves to be equal parts culinary encyclopedia, environmentalist manifesto, and love letter to the Gulf.

Banana Leaf Spanish Mackerel With Roasted Shallot Pico

Serves 2

“This recipe is from our friend Gary Ly, former chef de cuisine at Underbelly, in Houston. Not only is he a talented cook, he is a determined lover of seafood.”


1 cup water

2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce (see note)

½ cup sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Note: The Stoopses typically prefer Squid Brand fish sauce, from Thailand, for their recipes, but for this dish, they recommend Red Boat, from Vietnam.


1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3 large shallots, peeled

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

4 grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 sprig mint

4 sprigs cilantro

1 red Thai chile (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the oil over the shallots and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until they start to char and the shallots get really sweet, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once they’ve cooled, roughly chop the shallots. Mix the shallots with tomatoes, herbs, and red chile, if using. Season the pico with salt, pepper, and Nuoc Mam to taste.


1 whole Spanish mackerel (see note), about 1 pound, cleaned and scaled

1 bunch fresh dill

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 clove garlic, minced

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 large banana leaves

mint leaves, cilantro sprigs, and dill sprigs, for garnish

Score the mackerel on both sides and pat dry. Finely chop half the dill and combine with the turmeric and garlic. Rub the fish all over, inside and out, with the herb mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and rub with the oil. Lightly heat the banana leaves over a grill or a stove burner to make them more pliable.

Prepare a grill to medium heat. Wrap the fish in the banana leaves and tie tightly using kitchen twine. Place over a cooler spot on the grill and let cook for about 12 to 16 minutes. (This can also be done in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.) Once the fish is cooked through, remove it from heat and carefully cut open the banana leaves.

Pour the Roasted Shallot Pico over the top with all the juices. Garnish with mint leaves, cilantro sprigs, and the remaining dill sprigs.

Note: Other similar fish from the Gulf of Mexico, such as king mackerel, can be used if Spanish mackerel is not available.

Adapted from Texas Seafood: A Cookbook and Comprehensive Guide, by PJ Stoops and Benchalak Srimart Stoops. Copyright © 2019. Published by UT Press.

This article originally appeared in the November issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Gifts From the Gulf.” Subscribe today.