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Baked snapper May 18, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish, Wolfe recipe.
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I have a confession to make. This is a Nero Wolfe recipe, but I performed one major substitution – the type of fish used. This is an adaptation of the Baked Bluefish recipe that appears in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, but I had never heard of bluefish, or seen it for sale here in Australia. Research soon uncovered that the bluefish is predominately found in the United States, and migrates from Florida to Massachusetts each season. As I did not have access to bluefish, I decided to substitute snapper.

As it turns out, this was probably a good decision – the snapper I bought had been caught the same morning I bought it, and looked fantastic. I also bought some shrimp, as they were needed for the stuffing, and I began by preparing them. I minced the shrimp in my spice grinder along with salt, basil and tarragon.

Next, I added an egg white and mixed it up. I was unsure what adding the egg white would do, and in seconds I had what was essentially a shrimp meringue! I also added a bit of cream, although less than what the recipe called for.

Next, I turned my attention to the fish. My fishmonger had already gutted the fish, so all I had to do was stuff the shrimp mixture into the fish and slit the sides a few times. I placed the whole fish into a buttered baking pan, and poured a mix of melted butter and brandy over the top.

I left it to cook for about 30 minutes; in the meantime I prepared some vegetables to go with the fish: broccoli, onion and carrot, all roasted with a little bit of salt and olive oil. Here’s the fish as it came out of the oven:

I was amused to see that parts of the stuffing meringue mixture had browned and hardened on top. I served the fish with some of the roast vegetables.

The main thing that struck me when I took a bite was the flavour of tarragon, which had permeated the entire fish with its flavour. When I tasted the stuffing, it was quite sweet from the shrimp, and the exposed pieces had gone brown and a little crunchy! However, the standout was really the fresh fish, which was delicious, especially infused with the tarragon flavour. While I may not have used the same fish as Nero Wolfe, I think he would agree that if the called-for ingredient is not available, the freshest substitute is acceptable.

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