Friday, February 17th, 2012 | posted by mike
Out of all the fish in the sea, there are some that have always stood out as the finest and fanciest. The families of salmon and bass come to mind but the snappers have always had a high ranking, with the mighty red snapper as the king. All the snapper species we’ve sold over the years (there’s 15 species off the coast of Florida) have their merits and they’re all different.
The mutton snapper grows large like the reds, they even look a lot like them and can be cooked in any red snapper recipe. We love the beautiful, colorful yellowtail snapper that we get from the Florida Keys, with their tender, sweet and delicate flavor. The darker firm flesh of the mangrove snapper is great for the grill, the pan or the steamer. We’ve also on occasion offered Florida lane snapper and vermillion snapper too.
And on the subject of snappers, last week my daughter Kim and I had a fantastic fishing experience down in Florida. We cruised out of Sea Sport Marina in Jupiter, on the mid-east coast with Capt. Corey Engelman aboard his boat, Native. In the early morning darkness we passed the old lighthouse where we saw a pod of manatees the day before, and headed out to Corey’s favorite spots a couple miles off shore. The day was perfect, great sunrise, light seas and lots of fish. We were drift fishing over reefs and Corey would have to read the winds, the tides and the currents to take us over his spots. Each rod was rigged with two hooks and the action was fast and furious with fish being caught on almost every drop, often bringing up two at a time!
For the next 4 hours we had a blast, never really knowing what species we’d land next. The mighty genuine reds weren’t common in that area but we brought in lanes, muttons and mangroves along with a few different kinds of porgy, grouper, big eyes, bonito, pork fish, squirrelfish and grunts. Corey worked hard and was a real pro that really knew his stuff. That night we had a feast to remember. We visited an old Ann Arbor friend who happens to live about 5 minutes from the harbor and fired up the grill. We already had marinated some assorted snapper in lime and orange juice, for ceviche, in our hotel room and it was ready for the tomatoes and peppers. I made some ponzu dipping sauce for some seared (raw in the center) bonito for a nice tataki. Next we made up some mango salsa for the grilled snapper. We rubbed the snapper fillets with a little Cajun seasoning and olive oil and grilled it up golden brown- so fresh and so good!
Most of us aren’t cooking out doors right now but our mango salsa is great with snapper whether it’s grilled, broiled, baked or pan seared. Here’s the recipe. If you can’t find a nice ripe mango, ripe peaches are also great in this salsa.
Huachinango a la Veracruzana is a famous dish for red snapper originating from Veracruz, Mexico. We’ve sometimes substituted mangrove, mutton or yellowtails with delicious results. I use fresh tomatoes in season or San Marzano canned plum tomatoes in this dish along with green olives, green chilies, pickled jalapeños and capers. It’s a classic that I know you’re going to love!