Saturday, April 17, 2010

Roasting a whole snapper

I bought a whole red snapper from Marine Fish Market. It was frozen, so I defrosted it in some running water. I didn't have a ziplock bag big enough, so I put two on and duct taped them together for fridge storage. It looks like a kidnap victim.

Nasty set of teeth on it, huh? And although it should be obvious, it never occurred to me that fish had tongues. This was probably the creepiest thing about it. I was pleased to note that the fishmonger had not only gutted the fish, but removed the gills and scales, too. I was not looking forward to taking those off.

This fish is prepared for battle! I used kitchen shears to remove all the fins (dorsal, pectoral and anal) and the tail. They would only have charred. If this were Japan, though, I'm sure I would've created a delicacy with them. Probably not the spines, though.

To promote even cooking, I cut some deep slits into the flesh. This also let me season inside the fillets. I overall seasoned the fish with salt and pepper. Then, I arranged parsley and thinly sliced lemon, fennel, garlic and onion under it, in it and on top. We drizzled a bit of olive oil over the whole thing and popped it in a 400 degree oven.

Ready to go into the oven. It seems unhappy, somehow. You know, gashed and clipped with lemons in its belly. Personifying this fish didn't help me eat it later, by the way.

Here it is out of the oven. The parsley burned, which is fine because it actually lent an interesting flavor. It took much longer in the oven than we thought it would.

Butchering the fish (carving the fish? I think that's probably more the term) was an adventure. In all of our pieces, we only found 2 bones on our plate. I was a little impressed with myself. The best part was being able to carve away the tenderloin in one piece. You can see it in the middle of the plate, there. We served with hominy cooked in coconut milk. It was a little bland, but a very interesting texture. Would've been better if we'd remembered the ginger.
I looked up the proper etiquette for serving whole fish. One is to transfer to a platter, and carve at the table. Otherwise, you don't get credit for making a whole fish for your guests/family. First, you carve the upper fillet into portions and serve. Then you lift the spine and head up and off of the platter. Finally, you serve the lower fillet. That's all well and good, but I wouldn't have been able to do this. My fish looks much worse for the ware after hacking into it. Just as well we didn't have guests. :o)

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