One of the most delicate local fish in the waters off South Florida is snapper. Red snapper and yellowtail are the most commonly found varieties, but the variety I’m using today is known as “hog snapper,” which is delicate, tender, and worth seeking out if you can find it.
Otherwise, any variety of snapper or white fish will do–whatever is freshest will work best.
At my weekly farmers’ market, I found beautiful local tomatoes and long hot chili peppers. They inspired me to make the spicy red sauce in which I cooked my fish.
This method of cooking fish is more a braise than a poach–the fish is nestled in the sauce, but not covered entirely. As the fish and sauce bake in the oven (uncovered), the sauce reduces a bit and the fish exudes some of its briny moisture into the sauce. When it’s finished (in only about 15 minutes, in my case–more if your fish is in larger pieces), the sauce has the perfect consistency.
Along with the fish, we had tuscan kale with garlic and chili peppers, fresh local baby green beans, as well as some whole wheat couscous.
2 lbs snapper filets
1 lb ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, split
1 hot chili pepper
1/4 c white wine
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes (depending on the heat of the pepper and your prefered level of spiciness)
6 fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a skillet large enough to hold the fish filets, on low heat, saute the shallots, onion, garlic and chili pepper (split in half) in half the olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until translucent, but not too golden.
Add wine and reduce for a minute.
Cut the tomatoes into 1″ chunks and puree in the food processor.
Add to the skillet of aromatics, along with basil leaves and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add salt to taste and set aside.
Season fish with salt and place in sauce, partially nestling each piece in the sauce. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes (or until fish is cooked through). Serve with chili pepper over each portion (or if too hot, discard the pepper).