Joe Bruno, chef and owner of Pasta Nostra in Norwalk, C.T., prepared snapper with a sweet and spicy pepper sauce.
For one serving:
1 Red Snapper fillet, approx 7 ounces
All purpose flour in a pie pan
Salt / Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12" sauté pan
Have the fish monger clean, scale, debone and fillet the fish. Leave skin on. Rinse fillet in cold water.
Put some olive oil in the sauté pan and set over medium heat. Roll the fillet in the flour on both sides and shake off excess. When the oil is hot but not smoking place the fish in the pan skin side down. Salt liberally.
Fry the fish on the skin side until the edges brown-about two to three minutes. The object is to crisp the skin. Then carefully turn the fish, salt it again and cook the other side for about a minute.
Discard most of the oil leaving behind the toasted flour residue in the bottom of the pan and a little of the oil.
1/3 cup of our Sweet & Spicy Sauce
2 Bay Leaves, fresh if available
4 - 5 Pickled Pepper strips
Add 1/3 cup of sauce to the pan. Place the bay leaves in the sauce and the pepper strips too. Cover and sauté for 2 - 3 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Turn off heat, remove cover and transfer fish to warm serving plate. Arrange the bay leaves and pepper strips on top. Stir the sauce to make it homogenous and to check its consistency. If it's dense like jelly add a spoonful of water and stir over heat. If too thin cook it down for a few seconds. When satisfied pour it over the fish (it should run but not be watery). Garnish with chopped parsley and serve at once!
Notes: Two fish can successfully be cooked at the same time in a 12" sauté pan. To prepare more than two servings we use additional pans rather than a larger pan as larger pans do not yield the same results.
Left over fish can be stored with its sauce in the fridge and makes an excellent lunch served at room temp the following day, however it can also be gently warmed up.
At Pasta Nostra we serve this snapper preparation with a side plate of our Spelt Linguine (aka Farro Linguine) seasoned with a simple garlic and oil sauce.
½ Granny Smith Apple
2 Holland Red Bell Peppers
1 clove garlic
1 Bay Leave-fresh if possible
½ teaspoon salt
½ Habanero Pepper
A 2 qt. sauce pan (stainless or enamel)
The Pickling Liquid:
1 ¼ cups White Wine vinegar of exceptional quality
1 ¼ cups Water
Peel and core the apple and cut into six or seven pieces. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and cut into pieces (size does not matter). Peel and crack the garlic so it will release its juices.
Place all the ingredients into the saucepan.
Add the vinegar and water to the sauce pan to just cover the ingredients. If it's not enough add some more in the same ratio. Bring to a boil then turn off heat-no cover needed. DO NOT COOK-just boil and stop!
With tongs remove the garlic and the bay leave and discard.
2 t. cracked black pepper
½ t.+ whole fennel seeds
1 cup of the pickling liquid
Using the tongs transfer the remaining ingredients (the pickled apple and peppers) into the blender.
Add the cracked pepper, the fennel and one cup of the pickling liquid (leave the remaining liquid in the sauce pan for the next step).
Process in the blender until very fine. May be stored in the fridge for several weeks.
1 Holland Bell Pepper-yellow or orange for contrast
Remove stem and seeds from pepper and cut into ¼ inch strips. Add these to the remaining pickling liquid left in the 2 qt. sauce pan and bring to the boil. Turn off heat immediately.
Store the pepper strips in the liquid until ready to use. May be refrigerated for several weeks.
Notes: if using the sauce for pork one might wish to amp up the fennel seed content to as much as 1 teaspoon. For chicken one might prefer to leave the fennel seeds out entirely.
To Use: Add 1/3 cup of sauce to a lightly pan-fried snapper fillet, top with a few pepper strips and two bay leaves, cover and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Plate fish, adjust sauce for consistency, pour over fish, garnish with a little parsley and serve piping hot.
SWEET AND SPICY PEPPER SAUCE
RED SNAPPER WITH A SWEET AND SPICY PEPPER SAUCE