At Le Bernardin, where I cook, when snapper is ordered it is pronounced: snaaaaaaa-pah. I don't know why. Salmon doesn't get that same treatment, nor does lobster or black bass. But snapper, or snaaaaa-pah, is just sexier I guess. I'm hypothesizing here. But it is always ordered like a cat-call.
"Two lobster, one mahi-mahi, one by one on the monk, one striped bass, and a snaaaaaaaa-pah."
I suppose, "yeahhhhh baby" or "that's what I'm talking about" or "I wanna a piece of that" could be substituted for "snaaaaaaaaaaaa-pah".
It is a beautiful fish with flakey white flesh and shiny silver and red skin. So maybe it does deserve the extra attention. I'm not jealous. Well, maybe a little. A garnish sidenote: I am not a fan of stewed ratatouille. The flavors all sort of meld together and turn to mush for me. I'm sure some of you will argue the opposite and you are completely within your rights.
Regardless of my dislike of stewed vegetables, I truly adore the flavors of zucchini, eggplant, tomato together with a little basil, shallot, and splash of redwine vinegar – as long as it is kept fresh tasting. Perhaps the word 'stewed' should be pronounced similar to 'snapper' but with the opposite intention. Like: stewwwwwwwwwed. Kind of rhymes with cruuuuuude and lewwwwwwwd.
Back to snaaaaa-pah.... I find that the best way to cook it at home is to use a nonstick skillet, turn up the heat, and add olive oil or grapeseed oil. I prefer olive oil for this recipe since ratatouille is Mediterranean. Get your oil hot. Not to the point that it's on fire and smoking up your kitchen, but hot.
Place the fish skin side down and shake the pan a little to avoid stickage. With a spatula or peltex press down on the fish. Not too hard! Just enough to keep the skin flat against the pan and browning nicely. Don't even think about flipping the fish until you see the sides begin to brown or you will get soggy skin and not crispy skin.
Soggy skin no beuno Poppy.
Then flip and cook on the other side for only a minute. It should take no more than 3-4 minutes total cooking time. Which makes this dinner super fast. Because the ratatouille takes the same amount of time. I just beat Rachel's 20 minutes meals! That's what I'm talkin about: snaaaaaaaa-pah.
Crispy Red Snapper with Ratatouille serves 2
1 baby eggplant, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 shallot, minced 6 leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade
3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper
2 portions of red snapper with skin, approximately 6-7 oz each
Get some one to cook the ratatouille while you cook the fish! Unless you're confident at doing both at the same time. But why cook alone when you can cook next to some one you love?
In 2 medium non-stick skillets heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in each on high heat. Get the oil hot. Add the eggplant to one skillet, and turn down the heat to medium. The eggplant will soak up all the oil and then release it. After one minute add shallots and zucchini. Toss veggies to color on both sides. Add tomato rounds last to heat through. When ready to serve add 1 tablespoon or more (depending on how acidic you like) of red wine vinegar, some s & p, and the basil.
Meanwhile for the fish: Get your oil hot. Not to the point that it's on fire and smoking up your kitchen, but hot. Season fish on both sides with salt. Place the fish skin side down and shake the pan a little to avoid fish stickage.
With a spatula or peltex press down on the fish. Not too hard – just enough to keep the skin flat against the pan and browning nicely. Shake every now and then to insure no stickage. Don't even think about flipping the fish until you see the sides begin to brown or you will get soggy skin and not crispy skin.
Flip and cook on the other side for only a minute. It should take no more than 3-4 minutes total cooking time. Plate the vegetables and the fish on top. If desired you can add a little extra olive oil and vinegar to the ratatouille pan and whisk quickly over low heat for a broken warm vinaigrette.