With President's Day coming up, I thought I would make a traditional Native American Indian meal. This meal celebrates the local ingredients in America, particularly of the deep South. The women there combined fresh fish and fruit at the same meal. They would steam fish with oranges or wild grapes to make very original and tasty dishes. I decided to use lemon, shallot, and parsley instead to make a simple germolata for the fish to bake in. A little Native American influence and Italian influence for today.
The original recipe called for 2 whole snappers, simply caught, cleaned, then baked. You can find whole snappers in specialty stores, but I decided to use filets instead to cut the cooking time. I served these snappers en papillote (French) or al cartoccio (Italian), meaning baked in parchment paper. Many cultures have variations on this method using banana leaves, yucca leaves, cassava leaves, all creating a moist environment for the fish or meat to steam in and cook. The advantage is that you don't need to add much (or any) fat to add moisture, because the fish stays moist in its own little package. It's a great low-fat cooking method!
Serve the fish with simply roasted asparagus and homemade bread. It is a light and perfectly balanced meal. It does take a little practice to fold up the papillote, but your guests will really appreciate opening up there own little personalized packages, seeing the steam fly, and discovering their meal!
Servings: 4 servings
*Don't throw out the woody stems of the asparagus, make soup with it! Chop up the stems into a small dice and sauté them with some garlic, shallot, or onion (about 1-2 teaspoons). Then, add about 1 cup chicken broth or vegetable stock and simmer until tender. Add a squeeze of lemon. Puree it and you have a great asparagus soup for tomorrow!
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