MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Helen Dixon knows fish. Plus, how to season and study.

Dixon and her husband own Seagrape Seafood Market in Palmetto.

But her relationship goes way beyond how they cook. 

“I am a marine biologist. And so, you know, I’m all about fish. I was a research biologist for many years,” she said.

Dixon shared stories and pictures of her career, a smiling woman among throngs of men researchers on the water around the world. She also worked as a fish specialist for a food service business. 

Her favorite species for the Seagrape Seafood Market’s Grouper Reuben.

“I prefer black over red because it's a little thicker,” Dixon said. “It’s milder. It’s very, very sweet.”

Dixon grills the fish with Cajun season and butter.

As with many grill veterans, Dixon emphasizes how easy it is to overcook fish. When the fish starts to turn white, it’s cooking and finishing — and you can follow the white line on your fish rise. It’s that easy.

She flips the fish after a few minutes of watching the white line rise. 

It all depends on your grill or range temperatures. 

Dixon toasts rye bread, adds Swiss cheese, and from scratch dressing. The fish is finished fast so she throws the sauerkraut on the grill to heat up. Then she puts it all together. 

How big is it?

There are long toothpicks involved. 

And after she cuts the sandwiches diagonally, she places the halves face down on the cut in the to-go boxes so they look like triangles standing at attention. 

This stops the inevitable bottom piece of bread sog. 

Their special-made Thousand Island Dressing recipe:

  • 4 cups extra heavy mayonnaise
  • 2 cups ketchup 
  • 2 cups of sweet relish