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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cleaning my First Fish and Sunday Dinner

I bought some whole red snapper a while back since it's my hubby's fave fish. It was wild-caught, but also pre-frozen, so I was unable to get the fishmonger to filet it for me. For some reason, I thought this was not issue. Ha! I went fishing as a kid, and even ate my catch, but I for sure never cleaned a fish before.

Fast-forward to early this morning, when I decided to pull said fish out of the deep freeze. Mind you, when I say whole fish, I mean eyeballs and all. After the fish had been thawing almost to cutting point and after I had made a run to the store for charcoal for the grill, my husband says, "Um, so who's gonna scale and clean these fish anyway?" I kind of hedged around a bit, hoping he would volunteer, and finally said I would do it if he taught me how.

My husband, thankfully, attended fishing camp as a child, so he actually knew what he was doing. He carefully showed me how to not only clean the fish, but scale it as well. For some dumb reason, I didn't realize that scales and skin were different things.... FYI, they are.

He taught me to carefully slit behind the gills and the first fin, all the way around, and then break the fish's spine before pulling the head off. Apparently, something in the gallbladder is poisonous, so you don't want to break that. (I never was quite certain which part the gallbladder was, so I tried not to pop open anything.) He also taught me how to scale the fish, which was the easiest part. He showed me first and then I did my own. I somehow immediately turned the fish and jabbed my thumb into its eyeball. And I almost barfed. But somehow, I ignored the nastiness, and forged on ahead. And gutted the thing and scaled it. (The scaling, by the way, was much easier than the gutting.) Funny thing about all this is that I worked in the kitchen at Red Lobster for 4 years in college and never had to do any of this!

So we cooked the gutted, scaled, cleaned fish in lovely foil pouches on the grill, complete with veggies and seasoning.

Red Snapper Fish Pouches

Ingredients (per person):
1 small red snapper, gutted and cleaned and beheaded
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. oregano
5 slivers roasted red pepper
6 halfs grape tomatoes
1/8 chopped onion
1 smashed and chopped garlic clove
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Bragg's apple cider vinegar
sugar snap peas
1/2 tsp. capers
aluminum foil

Lay the fish in the foil. Arrange the vegetables across and around the fish. Sprinkle seasonings on top and top with capers. Roll the foil up to seal the pouch and add the vinegar and oil. Close foil pouch. Grill, sealed, for about 30 minutes or so. (If you are unaccustomed to cooking fish, it's easy to tell when it's done. It either loses its translucency or is easily flaked when cooked properly.)

I served this with a seasoned rice and some roasted broccoli and cauliflower. I get bored with rice pretty quickly, so I am always trying to mix it up.

Seasoned rice

1/4 onion, diced
2 slices roasted red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to turn translucent. Add lentils and rice. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water, sliced pepper and parsley. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and cover, cooking 20-25 minutes until liquids are gone and rice is finished.

The veggies I made were loosely inspired by a recipe for Roasted African Cauliflower that I used to cook from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. I cannot access said cookbook because we still haven't unpacked our books from when we moved (yes, in last October.) Anyways, so I did this based on memory and added a thing or two.

My Vague Version of Moosewood's Roasted African Cauliflower and Broccoli
10 grape tomatoes
1 bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower
3 tsp. whole coriander
olive oil
3 tsp. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, grind coriander and garlic cloves. Slice the grape tomatoes and add to garlic & coriander mixture. Add rice vinegar and about 1 tsp. olive oil. Pour in veggies, still frozen. Toss until veggies are coated in mixture. Pour mixture in baking dish. Add veggies and seasoning into oven. Cook for thirty minutes, removing from oven periodically to stir. I cooked mine in a convection oven so this could vary. Veggies are done when none of them are cold.

Serve all together. It's a wonderfully Mediterranean type of meal that got winning reviews from everyone. Make sure the kids know to watch out for the bones in the fish....

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