YEP, FISHING/FARMING WERE ON MY MIND

In the scheme of things, it seems like the ocean and the land were great players in my pot. It makes me wonder, “Could I survive with a net and some fertile soil?” And, the answer is,  yes I could!” There goes my imagination again.

But guys, this is for real. I relied on those hardworking farmers and fisher men/women to once again place food on my table. As usual, my friendly fish monger did most of the job for me with my snapper by scaling and cleaning.

So, when I returned home, it was just left for me to score and then season fish with salt and black pepper to taste. I dried fish with paper towels and stuffed cavities with fresh thyme for added flavors. I also placed a few all spice berries or pimento inside marks.

Fish(bone-in) were pan-seared on both sides for approximately five minutes on each sides.

PAN-SEARED SNAPPERS
PAN-SEARED SNAPPER FISH

These were then placed in a spicy and aromatic brown sauce consisting of bell peppers, carrots, onions, minced scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, pimento, and garlic. These were simmered under low heat with a splash of vinegar/water, pinch of sugar, soy sauce and browning.

The snapper were then added back to skillet in order to soak up all the delicious and exotic flavors.

PAN-SEARED SNAPPERS AND VEGGIES SOAKING UP SAUCE
PAN-SEARED FISH  AND VEGGIES SOAKING UP SAUCE

Fish was served on a bed of Jamaican spinach (callaloo) and steamed rice and gungo peas (also called pigeon peas).(Not in pic).

 

 

 

PROUD OF MY CATCH#SNAPPER SWEET/SOUR VEGGIES

It was the perfect set-up. Finally, summer temperatures took a nose-dive and in came showers and a refreshing feel of winter Florida-style. I went with the flow and flung open my doors and windows. I had a plan; a perfect plan for supper.

I went to my kitchen and went surfing. And what did I fetch? Oh, one of my faves, a firm and hearty snapper I had previously caught (purchased) at the fish market. Decided to pan-sear the big guy. But first, I seasoned with salt and pepper after I dried him.

I felt such a perfect alliance that I also stuffed him with fresh thyme I had on hand. In a sturdy hot skillet, I poured canola oil with a clove of garlic for extra flavoring. Garlic was then tossed. With a very light sprinkle of whole-wheat flour on both sides of fish, I immersed in skillet.

PAN-SEARED SNAPPER
PAN-SEARED SNAPPER

Snapper was pan-seared on both sides for approximately five minutes. I removed same from pan and drained excess oil. To that, I added julienned veggies (onions, bell peppers, etc). I made sure to seasoned along with a pinch of salt and black pepper. After they softened, a squeeze of honey, drizzle of vinegar and a splash of water were added.

I allowed these to simmer under low heat. Then it was time. Snapper was added back to skillet in order to soak up all the aromatic flavors of this sweet and sour bed.

PAN-SEARED SNAPPER WITH SWEET/SOUR VEGGIES AND SAUCE
PAN-SEARED SNAPPER WITH SWEET/SOUR VEGGIES AND SAUCE

I made sure not to overcook my big boy; thus, I removed him from the heat.

Snapper was paired with a creamy serving of polenta (tun cornmeal) along with a crispy garlicy side dish of brussels sprouts and broccoli.

POLENTA (TUN CORNMEAL)
POLENTA (TUN CORNMEAL)
GARLIC BROCCOLI AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS
GARLIC BROCCOLI AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

As the precipitation hit my patio rails, I grabbed my big boy catch and his side guys, I was in culinary heaven.

FINISHED DISH
FINISHED DISH

 

SNAPPER WITH SWEET/SOUR PICKLES

It’s not all the time that my palate and I are on the same plate. However, today, there was no debate. After days of consuming the feathery ones (turkey and chicken), my palate and I came to a rapid consensus.

We decided to go fishing. Thanks to the king of the hour, (whole snapper). As per usual, I made a few scores across the surface. Scoring same allowed the salt and black pepper and other spices to penetrate within.

In a hot skillet, a combination of canola and coconut oil was added along with a clove of garlic. The garlic provided additional flavor to fish. And, this was fished out and tossed. After drying fish with paper towel, it was lightly sprinkled with whole wheat flour and then pan-fried on medium heat and set aside.

PAN-FRIED SNAPPER
PAN-FRIED SNAPPER

Julienned bell peppers, onions, along with finely chopped scotch bonnet peppers, grape tomatoes, pimento (all spices) were slowly sauteed under low heat. Then, vinegar, honey, thyme, scallion with a splash of water were added. I made sure to season along with salt, and pepper.

Pan-fried snapper was then added back to skillet under low heat for approximately three minutes on each side. Fish soaked up all the aromatic spices and flavors. My palate and I were in ‘Surf Land’.

 

 

 

CHOPPY SEAS COULDN’T STOP ME!! #SNAPPER CATCH

In my culinary mind’s eye, I went fishing. The fact is, I wouldn’t last long on those high seas; I would go hungry. I prefer to dangle my feet by the water’s edge and watch the waves. I take my hat off and prefer to leave fishing to those hardworking fisher men/women who toil to bring the seafood to my table.

So, it was a deja vu kind of afternoon. I love fish and seafood overall. As always, I fetched my snapper at my neighborhood fish market. And, my cute fish monger did me the honors of cleaning and gutting my fish. I was ready for action (well, my snapper).

Brought home my catch and decided to steam them. Firstly, scored, rinsed and seasoned with salt, black pepper crushed garlic. In a hot and sturdy skillet, I added drizzle of coconut oil. To that I added roughly chopped:

  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots

After the above were sautéed and seasoned with salt and black pepper,  crushed pimento (all spice), thyme,crushed garlic, squeeze of ketchup, finely chopped peppers were added along with water. Under low to medium heat, blanched okra and whole snapper were added and steamed for approximately seven minutes per side. A pat of butter was also added to fish a shiny and rich finish. And because seafood likes acid, I squeezed a burst of lemon and a splash of vinegar on fish.

I served my snapper with steamed whole-grain rice along with a side serving of avocado and tomato salad. I couldn’t resist, in order to temper the spice in my steamed snapper, I added the sweet serving of fried plantains to the dish.

BIG LOVE…PERFECT CULINARY FELLOWS! #ESCOVEITCH FISH/SPINACH

When it comes to my culinary needs, I’m pretty liberal. I allow my palate free-rein to explore. She knows what I desire and if I don’t concur initially, we often come to a compromise. Ultimately, our needs are satisfied in the long run. So, the week-end was one of those when we were on similar pages from the ‘get-go’.  I didn’t resist and went with the flow.

I was in a rustic mood. There was no need to julienne and cut my root veggies for the pickles on my fried snapper fish. I was aiming for flavors and great spices. I allowed my knife and cut board to do the talking. They produced sizeable portions for my pickle sauce made up of vinegar, splash of water, pinch of sugar, salt, black pepper, pimento (all spice).

After simmering my onions, carrots, scotch bonnet peppers and other ingredients I placed these on my fried snapper fish along with a squeeze lime. My escoveitch fish stood out with their usual bold, spicy and mouth-watering flavors.

It was back to basics for my callaloo (Jamaica’s spinach). It didn’t assume a power struggle with its bold counter-part (escoveitch fish). In general, callaloo knows where it stands in my kitchen. The fact is, I could use this fiber loaded vegetable day-in day-out.

I’m always intrigued with the way it comes alive as the heat hits it. As usual, it didn’t disappoint. It held on to its green hue and even shone even brighter. After softening my onions and clove of garlic in a drizzle of olive oil, all I had to do was to administer a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.

I combined my two dishes and they fed off each other in a beautiful way. The callaloo (spinach) was tender but was not overly cooked. Moreover, it balanced out the spicy flavors of the escoveitch fish. They provided me and my palate great satisfaction that lasted the for hours later.

A JAMAICAN FAVE #ESCOVITCHED SNAPPER FISH

This old favorite of mine was due for an early revisit. After making a delicious fish broth(tea) with the heads of my two snapper along with root vegetables, I decided to continue the traditional way and did a Jamaican escovitch fish dish with the remainder of my snapper.

FISH BROTH (TEA) SIMMERING
FISH BROTH (TEA) SIMMERING

Although this dish is predominately served during the Easter period, it’s enjoyed throughout the year. The ingredients were:

  • Sliced snapper (boned-in) (six pieces)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for frying (1 cup)
  • Crushed all spice (pimento berries)
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Garlic (clove)
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sugar

Method:

Fried fish:

  1. Whole fish were previously scaled and cleaned by fish monger.
  2. After heads were removed for fish tea, the bodies of fish were slices and scored in order to allow seasoning to penetrate. They were dried with paper towels and seasoned with salt and black pepper to taste. These were placed in refrigerator  for approximately four hours.
  3. In hot skillet, oil was added under medium to high heat and flavored with a clove of garlic. Garlic was then discarded. Fish slices were further dried with paper towel and fried for approximately five to six minutes on each side.
  4. Then fish slices were dried on paper towel to remove excess oil.

Pickled (vinegar-based) veggies:

  1. In stock pot, vinegar, splash of water along with pinch of salt, sugar and sprinkle of black pepper were added. These were brought to a boil under medium heat.
  2. Bell peppers, onions, pimento berries, scotch bonnet pepper were added and allowed to simmer for approximately two minutes under low heat.

    PICKLED (VINEGAR-BASED) VEGGIES
    PICKLED (VINEGAR-BASED) VEGGIES
  3. Fried fish pieces were added to platter.
  4. Pickled veggies were added by garnishing fish and spooning on vinegar dressing.

SPICY AND COLORFUL FEST #ESCOVITCHED SNAPPER

It was quite a spicy and colorful treat a few evenings ago.  I wasn’t in the mood to count calories. After all, it was another ‘cheat’ day of mine. So, what did I do? I went island mon! Yes, it was back to basics for yours truly. I reckon the celebratory mood was still within. You see, August 6 was the official day when Jamaica celebrated her 53rd year of independence. And I decided to continue in my way; in the kitchen.

I guess I just wanted an excuse to cook a favorite of mine. And though this dish is popular during the Easter period, it’s cooked all year-round. I love an escovitched fish dish. When growing up, it was a staple in our kitchen and is still is. Thus, I didn’t hesitate to do a ‘throw-down’ with my ‘catch’. The ingredients were:

  • Snapper fish (2 whole) [cut into 3 slices]
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Pimento/all spice (1 tsp) [crushed]
  • Carrot (1 large) [cut into strips]
  • Bell peppers (wedges) [cut into strips]
  • Onions (1 med) [sliced into circles]
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Thyme (stuffing)
  • Sugar (1/2 tsp)

Method:

  1. Fish was rinsed and dried with paper towel. Then slices were seasoned with salt and black pepper to taste and stuffed with thyme for extra flavors.
  2. In a sturdy skillet, canola oil was added with a clove of garlic for flavor. Garlic was then discarded.
  3. Under medium heat, fish slices were fried on both sides until flaky on the inside and crispy on the exterior.
  4. Fish slices were drained on paper towel to remove excess oil.

Escovitched sauce:

  1. In small stockpot, vinegar, splash of water, fresh squeeze of lime,sugar, pinch of salt and black pepper, crushed pimento were added and brought to a boil.
  2. Vegetables and other spices were added. On low heat, pot with lid was simmered for approximately five minutes.

Fried fish slices were then topped with escovitched veggies and sauce. For extra color and additional veggies, I decided to add a few steamed okra in on the mix. Why not? It’s celebration.

A SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH DISH

I had a couple of snapper fish left out for thawing overnight in refrigerator. Fast forward to this afternoon, they perched on the square plate looking firm yet limp awaiting my attention. Clearly, they were fully thawed and ready for action. Guys, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t in the mood for fish. That happens sometimes, my dear palate made a last-minute switch on yours truly. However, I knew I had to make a dish with same as I hate to re-freeze seafood.

Thank God, it was an unseasonable dry day. Finally, spring has arrived in South Florida, USA. The temperatures were mild (Florida-style) and the humidity was low. As I flung open my windows and sliding doors, I smiled and thought, “great day for fishing.” I hate to cook fish in an enclosed space. I made my merry way to my kitchenette and did a quick scoring of my fish. I seasoned with salt, black pepper and crushed garlic. My plan was to make a sweet, sour and spicy snapper dish.

As the beautiful fluttering Florida breeze hit my drapes, I dried my fish with paper towel and removed the trace of garlic. In a hot skillet with canola oil covering the bottom, fish was pan-fried on both sides with a stuffing of fresh thyme in the cavities for extra flavoring.

PAN-FRIED SNAPPER FISH
PAN-FRIED SNAPPER FISH

My plan was to cook a crispy exterior and flaky flesh. And bingo, that was accomplished. I drained the excess oil from fish on paper towel and then discarded the used oil from skillet. To skillet, I added a drizzle of oil under low heat and tossed in carrots,onions, finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper, thinly sliced lemon along with pimento seeds.

I made sure to season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Veggies were sautéed until they were translucent Then, I diluted a teaspoon of sugar, vinegar (mainly distilled/red wine) and fresh lemon juice. This was then added to veggies and simmered to a sticky, sweet, sour and spicy consistency.

As soon as I ladled this on the fish, they sucked up every square inch of the sauce. I allowed that to soaked up all the goodness and later paired on a bed of warm corn and purple cabbage succotash.

SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH ON A BED OF CORN/PURPLE CABBAGE SUCCOTASH
SWEET/SOUR/SPICY SNAPPER FISH ON A BED OF CORN/PURPLE CABBAGE SUCCOTASH

My palate surrendered and we both became united. To say that I was happy is an understatement; I was ecstatic with the final dish.

PAN-FRIED LEMON SNAPPER FISH WITH CREAMY POLENTA/JAMAICAN SPINACH (CALLALOO)

This dish brings me back to my roots (my Jamaican roots). However, I’ve tweaked it a bit. Before I fried fish, I infused oil(combination of canola/coconut) with garlic, pimento(all spice) and thyme on low heat. Then I pan-fried fish and generously squeezed fresh lemon. Instead of a mainly vinegar-based topping of escovitch sauce, I incorporated fresh orange/lemon juice along with a drizzle of vinegar, pinch of sugar, salt and cracked black pepper. Onions,sweet bell peppers, scotch bonnet peppers were then added to sauce for a spicy and tangy finish.

In Jamaica, we have a cornmeal dish called “Turned cornmeal”. This was a staple in my household as a child. I must have consumed this dish dozens of time. There are different variations to the dish. However, it’s consisted of cornmeal, fresh coconut milk, seasoning of finely chopped onions, scallion and bell peppers. I made a slight tweak to this dish by adding shredded parmesan cheese. I guess Italy was on my mind.

For me, no dish is complete without a side of veggie. So, I served a delicious side of steamed callaloo (Jamaican spinach).A fresh ginger/apple/Jamaican rum martini completed the dish. Yeah mon!