Thursday, February 5, 2009
Like fishing monkeys in a barrel? What?
1 Whole Fish – Roughly 2lbs. after cleaning and scaling. Red Snapper, Dorade or any bass and Branzino
1 Head Fennel
1 Medium Onion
1 Bunch Thyme
-Slice thinly the fennel, onion and lemons. Toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and the whole sprigs of thyme. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
-Generously season the fish with salt and pepper inside and out.
-In an oven-safe vessel, spread a third of the mixture out to make a bed for the fish, stuff some in the cavity, and bury the fish in the remaining mixture
-Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until a pin bone of the dorsal fin slides out easily.
You need to start with a good fish. Have your fish guy show you the gills, they should be red and not too slimy. Gray or dull looking gills are a bad sign. The pupils of the eye should be black and clear, not cloudy. Give it a sniff, it should NOT smell fishy at all.
To prepare the fennel, remove the tops, cut length wise and remove the outside layer if it's funky or damaged. Cut out the core by making two diagonal incisions, Leaving you with four pieces.
Next for the tools, a mandolin is a great thing to own, for 27 bucks you can cut your slicing time down to nothing, and it does a perfect job every time. (The lemons don't work quite as well on the mandolin though)
In this demo, I'm using meyer lemons, They tend to be milder than regular lemons. As with everything, I encourage you to experiment and decide what you like. You could substitute or mix any citrus here, Limes, oranges, Yuzu, even grapefruits (in moderation).
It is important to allow the mixture to rest, so that the onions can macerate. This will sooth the onion a little, and allow the flavors to mingle.
As with any cooking time, it depends on the size of your fish, your oven, and you general attitude in life. So the real trick to determining when you fish is done lies in the dorsal fin. A whole bone should come out easily when tugged. This means the flesh is cooked and so, seperated from the fin bones. Your fish is ready to enjoy!