Saturday, October 11, 2008

Madame's birthday...

It was Madame's birthday yesterday, so it was time for something special for dinner. Rex's Seafood had some lovely red snapper fillets, so Snapper en papillote came to mind. However, that while visually appealing can be a bit dull, so what to jazz it up with? The plums in the store looked nice, and their sweetness would do good things for the fish - at least I hoped so. That turned out to be a good guess! The sweetness of the plums and the tartness of the lemons really served to coax out the gentle flavors from the fish - without overpowering it.

All in all a very successful dinner.

Red snapper en papillote with plums
Ingredients (for 2 people)
1 cup cooked couscous
2 red snapper fillets (6-8 oz each) (160-200gm each)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 red plums each cut into 16 thin wedges
1/2 of a sweet onion cut sliced thinly
1 large bunch of straight leaf parsley
3 T dry white wine.


Preheat the oven to 400F

Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper into heart shapes. Divide the couscous equally between them and lay on one lobe of the heart as a bed for the fish. Lay one fish fillet, skin side down, on each couscous bed. Season the fish very lightly with salt and finely ground pepper. Cover each fillet with the sliced lemons. Tuck the plum slices under the edges of the couscous to hold them in place. Cover the lemons and fish with the parsley and onions. Pour the white wine over the top of the onions/parsley/fish and fold the parchment over, sealing the edges to make a bag.

Bake the bags on the center rack of the 400 degree oven for about 15-16 minutes. Don't worry - it will be cooked. If the fillets are very thin, then 14 minutes will suffice.

Serve with steam fried baby eggplant (aubergines) - recipe follows. The steam fried method of cooking the eggplant preserves (to some extent) their lovely purple. It also softens the skins a little and makes them less chewy.

Steam fried baby eggplant

8 baby eggplant (each weighing about 2 oz/55 gm)
4T olive oil (not extra virgin, divided use)
1/2 cup water
Left over lemon slices from previous recipe - especially the ends.


Slice the eggplants longitudinally and brush the cut sides only with 1/2 of the oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. When almost smoking, place the eggplant into the hot pan, cut side down. Turn the heat to medium and continue to cook until the bottoms of the egg plant are lightly browned. You will see the eggplant turning soft up the sides while this is happening. Probably around 5 minutes.

Cover the eggplants with the lemon slices, add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, and cover the panimmediately. Allow the egg plants to braise for a further 5 or so minutes until soft.

Place a pouch of fish on each plate, and arrange the eggplants decoratively at the edge of the plate. Cut the pouch with sharp scissors at the table, to allow the steam to escape.

This goes especially well with a crisp, dry white. We served a Sancerre, but any dry crisp white would work. I would not serve a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc because they tend to be too grassy.

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