Dear Chef Bourdain;
My lovely wife headed out to the hallowed halls of Super King, way up in Pasadena-ish territory. They are a purveyor of many fine and strange meats at very reasonable prices, so it was worth the trip to lay in the supplies for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. This was the same place I got the offal for Tripes Les Halles on Guts Night. She had a big list, because it’s a pretty big menu, and I didn’t do the greatest job of being especially specific. So when I said “red snapper” in my head was this big ol’ gorgeous fish. But she got fillets instead, because she is not telepathic, no matter how often I expect her to be.
But ya know, fish is only going to keep so long, so I figured I’d just do it anyway – I know that your exhortations about fish being better on the bone are sincere. In fact I’ve cooked whole red snapper before anyway – just not in the Basquaise style. So I’mna say this counts, anyway, even though it’s not a real whole fish. If you disagree, let me know and I’ll do it over again. After telling you to go fuck yourself, ‘cuz what were you thinking with so many goddamn veal recipes?
Bearing in the mind the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far – don’t fuck up the meez – I proceeded to not fuck up the meez. An onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, four garlic cloves and thyme leaves, all set to go. I heated up roasting pan and olive oil, and browned the onions and pepper. This fills the house with an amazing smell, and so I bet the Basque people are both colorful and perpetually hungry. Judging by the recipes named after them. By that same logic, though, I am covered with cilantro and have avocado on my head.
After the veg was browned, I added the garlic and thyme. When that got hot, I poured in the white wine and scraped up the good stuff. I added some home-made stock (it really does make a difference) and brought it to a boil. On goes the fish fillets, and into the 400F oven. Your recipe is for a whole fish, which obviously would take longer to cook than just some fillets, so I kept a close eye on it. I also omitted the potatoes since we’re doing the low-carb thing most of the week. I managed to pull the fish out at just the right moment, so it was delicate, flavorful and very tender. Assistant Chef Bourdain also went nuts for it, and circled the table like a well-chummed shark.
I missed out on crisping the skin and the added flavor of the more delicate bits, but it was still really delicious. It’s also easy, and as you say, simple to improvise on, too. I’m crossing this one off the list. I’m way behind, and the fundamental technique was still the same – and, I might add, something I’ll be using a lot in the future.
Next time, the whole fish!