My Son introduced me to a new Hispanic seafood market on Saturday. The market specializes in whole finfish caught in Florida and nearby waters. In the display case are Red Snappers, large Groupers, King Fish and some rarely seen varieties such as Red Mullet (Goatfish). My Son picked up fresh sardines and I went home with a nice Pompano for my dinner.
I don’t remember when or where I first had Pompano en Papillote (Pompano cooked in Parchment). Maybe 35 years ago at the then legendary Ocean Grill perched on the Atlantic in Vero Beach. It left an impression for whenever I see fresh Pompano I think back to my first taste of this incredible, clean flavored fish.
At the market I first thought of cooking the Pompano with green olives, tomatoes and fennel. I spied Kumquats and thought the fish might be nice with these and some dill. I should have stood ground and made a choice of only one approach, but undecided I picked up ingredients for both recipe ideas deferring my decision until I returned home.
Undaunted, I started by first rinsing the fish and admiring just how clean and fresh it was. Still unable to chose between two approaches to preparing the fish I surrendered and accepted that I was going to use all the ingredients I brought home. First, chopped fennel and red onion were sautéed with olive oil then placed in the bottom of the roasting pan with the Pompano resting on top.
Next a relish of Kumquat, cherry tomatoes and green olives was prepared and stuffed in the seasoned cavity of the fish along with a few sprigs of dill. A bit of Chardonnay was poured over the fish; the remainder of the relish spooned on top and around along with two knobs of butter.
The baking dish was covered with foil so the fish benefited some from the steaming effect of en papillote. It was then roasted in the oven before finishing uncovered beneath the broiler.
I admit that the dish was a bit confused by the use of too many ingredients. It did eat nicely and depending on the size of your Pompano it will feed two people or one hungry diner. I served this dish with boiled Yukon Gold potatoes finished in butter with parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
- 1 whole fresh Pompano cleaned, fins removed
- 8 kumquats sliced crosswise
- 8 cherry tomatoes sliced crosswise
- 8 pitted green olives sliced crosswise
- Good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 fennel bulb coarsely chopped
- 1/2 red onion cut into large dice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh dill
- 1/2 cup chardonnay
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 425
- Season the Pompano cavity with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Combine the sliced kumquats, tomatoes and olives in a small bowl. Add a tablespoon of good quality olive oil. Season and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Sauté fennel and red onion with olive oil over a medium heat for two minutes. Placed sautéed ingredients in a baking dish.
- Place the Pompano on top of the sautéed ingredients in the baking dish. Place the dill and one tablespoon of the Kumquat mixture in the cavity of the fish. Spoon the remainder of the kumquat mixture on top of an around the fish before adding wine and butter.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then, remove the fish and turn the oven to broil. When the broiler heats remove the foil and place the fish under the broiler for 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven to so it can be turned and then return it to the broiler for 2 additional minutes before serving.