Red Snapper with Tomatoes, Basil, Fennel, and Lemon
Mediterranean flavors combine beautifully with mild red snapper. Tomatoes, fennel, and carrot are spiced with a little coriander and bay leaf to form a bed for sauteed snapper fillets. Note that the chef suggests this will serve four to six people: just plan on one snapper fillet per person, and the vegetables will “stretch” for six. Add crusty bread and a salad for a delicious and simple meal.
- Red snapper fillets - 4 - 6, one per person
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup
- Roma Tomatoes - 10 medium
- Olive Oil - 1 cup
- Chives - 1/2 bunch, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Fennel bulb - 1, cut into 8 wedges
- Carrot - 1 small, diced
- Shallot - 1, diced
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Coriander seeds - 6
- Water to cover
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Dry white wine - 2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons, cut into four pieces
- Peanut oil for frying
- Basil leaves - 16 - 18 (3 - 4 per person)
Gently remove any bones or scales from the fillets. Place the fillets on a dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Put the 1/2 cup of butter in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter browns. Take off the heat and let cool until solidified.
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Core the tomatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place skin-side down on a baking sheet and bake for 2 - 3 hours, until tender and nearly dried. Cut into medium dice. Add chives and toss.
In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and saute the fennel, carrot, and shallot for 2 - 3 minutes, until softened. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, wipe out the pan, and return the sauteed vegetables to the pan. Add the bay leaf and coriander seeds. Pour in enough water to just cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 45 - 60 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate or shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Reserve the cooking juice.
In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Score the skin of the snapper fillets. Season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets in the pan and weight with a heavy pan lid or similar object to keep it from curling. Saute on one side for 3 minutes and turn. Add the browned butter, sprinkle lemon juice in the pan, and cook the fillets 2 - 3 minutes on the other side, until the fish is done through and flakes easily. Remove and drain on paper towels; keep warm. Repeat with remaining fillets, adding olive oil as needed; do not crowd the pan.
Add the reserved cooking juices from the vegetables and the white wine to the fish pan over medium-high heat. Stir up any browned bits and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the cream. Cook 2 minutes. Whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, melting the butter completely and whisking it into the sauce before adding the next piece. If the sauce gets too hot and beads of liquified butter appear, remove from heat and whisk until incorporated. Keep warm over barely simmering water or in a thermos until ready to use.
To fry the garnish: Heat the oil to 370 F in a deep-fat fryer or deep saucepan. Pat the basil with towels or paper towels until dry. Place 6 - 8 basil leaves in the oil and fry until crisp, 30 to 40 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire lifter and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining basil.
To serve; Place a snapper fillet to one side on each serving plate. Arrange the vegetables along the side. Add a scoop of tomatoes. Drizzle butter sauce over the fish and vegetables, and garnish with fried basil leaves.