I wanted to make New England Clam Chowder but my recipe calls for fish stock. I could buy fish stock but it’s not the same and I don’t make chowder all that often. So this would be a 3 part recipe.
I found some nice red snappers at the fish market and bought two. I would serve them for dinner and then reclaim the bones and heads for making stock. Then I would make the chowder with that stock.
Serving a whole fish is rare in the United States and one could easily be intimidated by the prospect but it is not that hard and can make for a special presentation.
Begin by cutting slits in the fish on both sides. Cut them through the skin and flesh to the bone. Season the fish with salt and pepper, both inside the fish and in the slits.
Make a paste of parsley, capers, garlic and a little olive oil. Chop them all and salt them as you chop so they grind into a paste.
Spread the paste over the outside of the fish pressing it into the slits.
Stand the fish up on a sheet pan, spreading it open if necessary to get it to stand up. Roast it in a hot oven (400°) for about 30 minutes. When you start to smell the warm delicious aroma in the house it’s probably done.
When the fish is ready, simply slide a knife behind the gills, slicing under the skin toward the tail. You will feel your way with the knife so that it slides over the bones below. Lift the filet from the fish and then pick up the tail and the entire spine and bones will pull away, along with the head and you are left with the bottom filet.
Put the filets on a platter and drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Don’t forget to save the bones and head for making fish stock…that’s the next posting and it’s surprisingly easy. Fresh stock is one of those things that makes home cooked food taste better than store-bought!