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Spending the Ides in the Caribbean; It’s So Easy…

Red Snapper

Okay, NOW it’s the Ides of March. If your name is Julius Caesar, I suggest you stay indoors, hide the knives and see no visitors. For the rest of us, we should avoid Caesar Salad; unless you see that as an appropriate celebration of the passing of the warrior-leader of ancient Rome. (Me, I don’t care for that dressing much anyway.)

It’s also time to gather together some great fixings for fish tomorrow. Yes, it’s your favorite CU feature, Fish 4 Friday…

Since spring is here (at least in God’s Country), I thought maybe we could use some Caribbean-style fare. Okay, I admit the connection’s a bit tenuous, but bear with me; the meal will change your mind, I bet. We’re going to use a modified recipe from Carol Fenster’s encyclopedic volume, “1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes.” No, I’m not suddenly on the gluten-free fad-wagon; I simply like easy fish dishes with plenty of flavor.

And Caribbean Red Snapper With Banana-Coconut Salsa is definitely full of flavor. Here’s what you’ll need to collect:

  • 4 red snapper fillets (total, one pound)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) peanut oil
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled, cut into small dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice (1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 red Serrano, minced (Caribbean folk would use a habañero)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes (not sweetened, not shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Of course, the usual substitutions apply:  kosher salt for sea salt; the minced chile is optional (but you’ll use one, yes?). For the fish, most any firm-fleshed, lightly colored and flavored fish will do. For instance, orange roughy is an ideal replacement, but may not be available. Halibut works, as would cod. Ask your fishmonger for guidance if you’re unsure.

Now that you have the software, time for the hardware and algorithm. Rinse the fish fillets, pat dry and season; set aside. Make the salsa by combining the ingredients from banana on to the end of the list; leave the peanut oil for frying the fish.

Time to finish off the preparation. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the peanut oil. Fry the fish fillets to a desired degree of doneness. This will take 7-10 minutes, depending on the type of fish, its thickness and so on. Turn the fish once only, if you can time it that way. Once the flesh is opaque all the way through and there’s a nice golden crust, it’s time to take it out and plate. Don’t overcook the fish, as it’ll be tough.

Plate the fish fillets on elongated, festive dishes and spoon salsa over. Serve with iced tea and a side, say asparagus, and you’ve got a quick, easy meal that’s stuffed with flavor and low calorie. Gluten-free too, if that matters to you.

This banana salsa shouldn’t be made too much in advance as the banana will mush out and discolor, and that’s not a nice topping. However, you can prepare the rest of the salsa ahead of time and refrigerate, then dice the banana just before you eat and add it to the salsa with gentle stirring. It’s a nice, showy maneuver if you’re having friends over! Yes, we here at the Underground can turn you into a show-chef; it’s one of the free benefits we provide…

Enjoy the (March Fish Madness) Heat!

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