Rustic Red Snapper
We just love fish and shellfish, the diverse, strange creatures from the planets waters, whether from the great seas or the great lakes to the beautiful rolling rivers of North Carolina, you can’t beat the smell and taste of a freshly caught river trout, salmon or succulent prized ocean oyster.
Having grown up in the North East of England we would visit the beaches of South Shields, Seahouses, Eyemouth off the coast of Scotland, and holiday in my aunties caravan in Warkworth near Amble. Still one of my favorite places to visit each time I go back to England, so many fond and happy memories. At the stalls along the beach we would buy potted shrimp, steamed crab legs, freshly cooked battered fish and chips. My father loved winkles, and it was our job to scarrow the rocks around the beaches and fill our sand buckets with as many as we could physically carry in both hands. He would later get the biggest pan in the caravan, fill it with salted water, bring the water to the boil and tip all the fresh wrinkles into it. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain off the water, tip the cooked wrinkles onto a newspaper covered table, add a sprinkle of salt and black pepper and we would all dig in with our own special pin taken from mam’s dress making box. To tell the truth my mother always gave this a miss, preferring to have a sandwich as we ate all the “snots” as she called them, until we could not eat anymore. FUN TIMES, GOOD TIMES, FAMILY TIMES.
So many people are put off buying, preparing and cooking fish, so here are a few pointers to help you:
The flesh of fish and shellfish are very different to that of animal flesh or poultry. Fish and shellfish are cold blooded as they live their lives at the equivalent of a refrigerator and spoil very quickly unless they a kept alive or kept ice cold.
So buy your fish from a seafood specialist with a high turnover.
Always ask where the fish has come from, the nearer the better, bring along a cooler full of ice to keep the product as cold as possible after buying.
Avoid fish or shellfish with a strong odor, fresh fish smells of the seashore.
Choose whole fish if you can, then have the market clean and portion it for you. Look for glossy, taut-looking skin, bright full eyes, red inner gills.
For shellfish choose live lobsters and crabs that look lively when touched or handled.
Clams, mussels and oysters that are stored in a shallow tank, not completely submerged in water or in a plastic bag. The shells should be closed, if open tap the shell and it should close, if it doesn’t then toss it out as the mollusc is dead.
Preshucked oysters whose surrounding liquid is clear, scallops that are slightly off-white to slightly orange and not to glossy, very white, glossy scallops have been treated with chemicals.
Squid and octopus are normally frozen and thawed, buy small as these are more tender and easier to cook.
Always store fish and shellfish on crushed ice in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible.
To prepare fish always clean thoroughly, remove any scales, trim off any inner organs from the belly, remove as many bones as you can and rewash and pat dry.
Shellfish, if frozen allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight, scrub the shells with a brush to remove any grit or slime.
Remove the vein in shrimp and lobster tails, this is the digestive tract of the creature, do not eat it.
Fish and shellfish are typically cooked at 120’F to 140’F (50 to 60’C) just until done.
Fish and shellfish are generally a very lean high protein low calorie food with outstanding health benefits. As I’m using red snapper in this recipe let’s talk about white flesh fish. One 3oz portion of white fish generally provides about 20gms of lean protein for less than 100 calories. Rich in B vitamins that 3oz portion provides about half of the daily value of this vital nutrient along with the trace mineral selenium which as we know is a cancer fighting mineral.
We as a family eat fish at least twice a week, some times more depending on the season. In the spring and summer it’s always a lite dinner that can be enjoyed on numerous occasions during the week. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to try at home, I’m using red snapper in this recipe but try any fish that you like, give it a try and see what you think, enjoy!
Rustic Red Snapper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
4x 6-ounce red snapper fillets
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vermouth or dry white wine
1/3 cup low sodium fish stock or chicken stock
1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 large heirloom tomato, cored and sliced
6 each green and black olives, rinsed, pitted and chopped
A few small basil leaves for garnish
How To Make:
- Take a large skillet and add the oil, place over a medium heat and add the onions, oregano, basil, and garlic slices. Cook without coloring for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Season the sea bass with salt and pepper, place into the skillet along with the vermouth and stock, bring to a simmer. Add the capers, tomatoes and olives, cover with a lid and gently cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked to your desired degree of doneness.
- Just before serving scatter over the baby basil leaves. Serve with couscous, a simple side salad or a thick slice of warm crusty whole-wheat bread to soak up all the lovely cooking juices.