December 10, 2012

Gray Snapper Stewed in Red Wine

I especially love food that tastes amazing just the way it is. In its most innocent and immaculately pure nature. Dressed up with the most ordinary make-up one might have. Just like the sweetest strawberry do after being freshly picked from the vine. Or the butternut squash - after you roast it in the oven. Without anything else to keep it's company. Barefoot and naked, but outrageously delicious, making you sing and praise all the possible goddess for that absolute clear and simple flavor.

That's why I love vegetables. They are perfect just the way they are. Most of them. They don't need a fancy sauce, the most expensive spice mixture or eleven-ingredient dressing. They can go solo, and, I'm telling you, they will create the most beautiful and the most euphonious melody. Simply because they have everything that's needed - the flavor, the texture, and the color. All you have to add is a perfect moment.

Snapper Stewed in Red Wine

That's why I love and vegetables, and that's why I don't feel that comfortable when it comes to fish. Differently from all the garden treasures, fish simply is not as good when it's lonely. It must have a friend. A companion that will enhance it's flavor along the way. Something to support. To encourage. To make a stand when needed. Something - whether it's an incredible sauce, a jazzy herbal infusion, or a pile of deliciously tossed salad. Just something. Anything.

And that something very often is wine. There used to be a strict rule demanding to pair fish only with white wine. However, this rule was overstepped so many times already that all the signs of its existence are almost nowhere to be found these days. It's liberalism, people, and it's occupying even the fines dining places.

But going back to that fish and wine marriage, I really love to use wine as the flavor basis for a mild but relatively firm fish. And that is red I'm talking about. Solid and packed with acids it brilliantly confirms the fish itself. Just make sure you've picked light, fruity, low-tannin red - this will guarantee you a flawless result. And when it comes to fish, this time I used a Gray Snapper (also known as Mangrove Snapper), but Red Snapper, Bream or even Bass will work too.

All in all, this dish sparkles the gloss, and it could unquestionably be a perfect course for a light Christmas dinner. Especially for those who don't like to get stuffed and prefer to stick to the moderation side, even during the holidays.


Snapper Stewed in a Red Wine

1 medium snapper, cleaned and cut into portion-size pieces (not too small so that the fish won't fall apart)
1 carrot
1 onion
fresh parsley
3-4 peppercorns
2-3 cloves
2 dried bay leaves
3-4 lemon slices
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine
red or wild rice, for serving

To make the stock, in a medium saucepan cook together carrot, onion, parsley, spices, and water (about 2 cups, just enough to fully cover the vegetables). You can also skip this step if you have some already made vegetable stock on hand.
In the meantime, slightly rub snapper pieces with salt and place them into another medium size bowl. Cover with lemon slices.
When the stock is ready, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the fish, and the make everything boil once again. Then lower the heat to medium and let it simmer.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Add the flour and cook it constantly stirring for a few minutes. Pour in vinegar, sugar, wine, and 2 tablespoons of the remaining stock. Simmer for a few minutes minutes stirring continually, then pour over the fish and let it cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Served with rice and some fresh bread on the side.

Snapper Stewed in Red Wine

Another great fish dish:
- Red Rice Pilaf with Fish, Dried Fruits and Almonds

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