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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whole Roasted Red Snapper

I just love cooking (and eating) whole, fresh fish. Firstly, cooking with the bones in the fish produces a much more delicious result. It is a little more work, but, trust me, it really makes a huge difference flavor-wise. Secondly, I like how easy it is to tell whether or not a fish is fresh, whereas being able to tell if a fish fillet is fresh can be a little trickier.

When purchasing whole fish, first look at the eyes. If the eyes are clear (not cloudy), it passed the first test. Secondly, ask the fish monger to show you the underside of the gills. If the gills are bright red, it is fresh. If they are brownish, it means the fish has been sitting for a little while. There are a few other ways to tell if a fish is fresh, but they consist of a little poking and prodding, and since most of us are not comfortable handling raw fish while out g
rocery shopping, I suggest sticking with the two aforementioned methods-- they have never let me down.

Whole Roasted Red Snapper

1 2-3 lb whole red snapper, scaled but not deboned
1/4 c. arugula
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons capers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 lemon, sliced into 1/8" thick rounds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop the arugula, garlic, capers, crushed red pepper and salt together until everything is m
inced. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Pat fish dry and season inside with salt and pepper. Slice 3 diagonal cuts into each side of the flesh of the fish, slicing all the way to the bone. Lightly season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper and rub it with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stuff the slits with the mixture. Line the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish and place the fish upright on top of the lemon slices. Place a ball of foil under the tail to help the fish stand up. Bake the fish for 25 minutes or until flesh flakes easily. Transfer to a serving platter and gently lift the fillets from the bones.

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