We love one-plate dishes and often cook with the intent to share instead of plating separately. This weekend, we knew we wanted to cook a whole fish, but didn't know what the hell else was gonna happen.
Though she's also a one-plate fan, Leela doesn't believe in sharing.
We actually wanted branzino, but there were none to be had. Quay figured it out, though. And in no time, we had a beautiful whole Vermilion snapper on hand (on sale for $8/pound!) along with fresh herbs, potatoes, capers, asparagus, and a few other things that we'll get to later.
This is a one-plate dish you don't want to miss. It's shareable and incomparable. So be dapper and get yerself some snapper!
Vermilion snappers are smaller than reds, and they have huge eyes. Note the slender shape. This one is just over a pound and is perfect for two people along with sides. If you're feeling famished, definitely cook two.
To start out, Quay cut a bunch of thyme sprigs that will be used with potatoes. Look at the handy-work!
See? I told you some would be used with potatoes. These guys are halved then tossed with EVOO and thyme. The variety of colors go great with this dish.
Next up are the tomatoes. Again, cut in half and tossed with EVOO and S&P.
Finally, we have a mix of asparagus, yellow onion, Kalamata olives, and bell peppers. These are roughly chopped and tossed in - you guessed it - EVOO.
Here's the herb topping - a mix of garlic, capers, parsley, red pepper flakes, and a small amount of EVOO. Very tasty! It's similar to, but not a traditional gremolata because we used oil and didn't use lemon zest. Call us "non-purists" for the moment... then chill the @$#% out.
The veggies are all mixed together then put into a pan lined with parchment paper. The mix bakes for 20 minutes until the fish is ready to go in.
Now we get to pay attention to the fish. If you don't scale fish at home, make sure to ask them to do it at the store. Prep work is really easy and just involves making three slices on each side and seasoning inside and out with salt and pepper. With the slices, go as deep as you can without hitting the bone - mine were probably ¼" - ⅜" deep. Don't overthink it.
Here we go with the 12" iron skillet again. It's not required but works great. Basically, you want to use the widest-bottomed pan that you have available. Toss that thing on medium-high heat, add a bit of grapeseed oil, and you're ready to go. Add the fish after the oil shimmers.
Y'all know that citrus goes with fishes, and we're not gonna stray from that. Quickly into the cook, lemon and lime wedges are pushed into the cavity.
Citrus goes with fishes.
Next, we add lemon slices and, after about 5 minutes, a couple tablespoons of butter. Pull it off the heat. When the butter melts, baste the fish, spooning it over the whole thing. Then top it with the herb mix. The fish goes into a 400° oven to finish - 15 minutes.
While the fish finishes roasting, make a quick salad dressing of rice vinegar, EVOO, salt, and pepper. Whisk it together then add arugula and toss it. Place it on a platter and put the fish on top. That fish has never been more comfortable.
It reminds me of when Leela takes my place in bed and lays on my pillow. Except for the dead eyes.
Next step is placing the roasted veggies all around the fish. Finally, sprinkle finely chopped chives and Maldon over everything. Boom! Done.
🐶 Leela Storm's Suggested Pairings
🍽 Hotel Critique
I'm not a huge fan of olives, but Quay made the right decision by adding them to the veg mix. The brine cooks out and brings a really vibrant, Mediterranean flavor to the dish which is very welcomed.
The capers lose a bit of their punch, in a good way, and everything is balanced. The garlic and parsley bring a bright kick to each fork-full of fish, which is slightly sweet and meaty. We got more off of this thing than I expected, too.
It's fun to share a plate! If we do it again, I'll add more potatoes. The veg mix in general is so flavorful it's great on its own.
- Don't be afraid to cook a whole fish.
- Olives and capers for the win.
- Flavor options are endless: Italian, Mediterranean, Asian - so take your pick and move on.
- Use that fish carcass for stock!