Ella’s Whole Roasted Fish
This dish is named for Ella Brennan, first lady of fine restaurants in New Orleans, and is served at the Palace Cafe, one of the Brennan’s several fine restaurants in the city. Creole seasoning, once only available in New Orleans, is now on grocery shelves all over the U.S., making it easy for you to replicate the taste of this dish.
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- Sweet potatoes - 2, peeled
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Corn Meal - 2 cups
- Creole Seasoning - 2 tablespoons creole seasoning
- whole pompano, flounder, sea bass, grouper, or trout, - two, 2-pound, cleaned
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Canola or other vegetable oil - 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Caper-Butter Sauce
- Salted Butter - 1/4 cup (1/2 stick)
- Kosher salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Garlic Cloves - 4, minced
- Shallot - 1/2, minced
- Capers - 2 tablespoons
- Thyme Sprigs - 3
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Parsley - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Worcestershire sauce - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Mixed chopped herbs - 1/2 cup (chives, thyme, and tarragon)
- Red Bell Pepper - 1/2, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and diced small
To fry the potatoes: Cut the potato in fine spiral julienne on a spiral slicer. Or, using a parer with a swivel head, cut long thin slices down the length of the potatoes, turning the potatoes a little each time you cut, to create many very thin long strips of potato. Heat the oil to 350 F in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan. Add the sweet potato julienne and fry until crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes; the potatoes will float to the surface as they fry. Remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Keep warm. Do not crowd the pan; fry in batches if necessary, letting the oil return to temperature between batches. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
To prepare the fish: Preheat the oven to 450 F. In a shallow bowl or deep dish, combine the corn meal and Creole seasoning. Heavily season the fish with salt and pepper and dredge in the seasoned corn meal. Heat 3 tablespoons of the canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sear the fish on both sides until lightly browned, adding more oil if necessary. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the flesh flakes easily.
To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to foam and turn brown. Add the kosher salt, garlic, and shallot and cook until translucent. Stir in the capers, thyme, lemon juice, parsley, and Worcestershire sauce and swirl to blend. Cook for 1 minute to heat through.
To serve: Place each fish in the center of a warmed platter. Pour the sauce over and around the fish. Garnish with sweet potato fries. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and red pepper dice.