“I’d rather not make the centerpiece of dinner picking a carcass clean.” – Me, discussing with K exactly how we should eat this dinner.
The chefs on Top Chef Masters this season are totally hitting it out of the park, food-wise. The website content team at Bravo are NOT hitting it out of the park this season. They’ve only been posting three or four of 10 to 15 dishes made on the show so we decided to take matters into our own hands, looked at the photo of Chef David Burke’s snapper with sweet corn puree, roasted tomato vinaigrette and garlic chorizo and made our own damn recipe.
It’s been very hot in Minnesota of late, so we decided to use the grill as our primary heat source. We took farm-fresh cherry tomatoes, drizzled a little olive oil on top and roasted them on the grill for the vinaigrette. Look at these beauties!
I stopped by the fish counter at Whole Foods and asked if they had any snapper filets. They did not, but they had a GORGEOUS whole snapper (this photo does not do it justice). We figured, “Why not?!” Neither of us have cooked/grilled a whole fish before, but there’s a first time for every delicious thing, so we went for it.
I got some fresh Minnesota sweet corn from the farmers market and charred it on the grill. I meant to char it a little less, but I put it on the grill, wandered off and forgot about it (this happens a lot when I’m cooking, by the way), but I like to think it just enhanced the lovely smoky flavor.
We pureed that beautiful charred sweet corn with a little milk and melted some luscious, creamy butter and a little salt. So simple.
We spread the fish with olive oil, lemon juice and basil puree and put it on the grill. It only took about 10 minutes and we knew it was finished when its flesh was white and flaky and…when it’s tiny jaw and wee teeth fell off. It was at this point in time we engaged in an intense discussion of how, exactly, we would eat this. Every time we touched the fish it fell apart because it was so delicate and supple. K voted for just putting the whole fish in the middle of the table and diving in with our forks. I was less psyched about “picking the carcass.” The teeny, tiny jaw lying unhinged next to the fish’s grilled face sealed it for me — I just grabbed chunks of fish and piled them on our corn puree. Our most beautiful meal? Not by a long shot. Yummy? Absolutely.
The tomato vinaigrette was sweet and tangy (if a bit off-color due to the roasted tomatoes and the dark balsamic vinegar), the corn puree was sweet, lightly salty and creamy, the fish succulent and tinged with fresh basil with little bits of chorizo to add crunch. Turns out grilling a whole fish is super easy, extremely tasty, economical and the remaining bones make your trash smell like death (so don’t make it until the day before your trash is picked up).
Here’s how we did it:
1 whole snapper, cleaned, de-finned and scaled
Half a lemon’s worth of fresh squeezed juice
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup basil puree (1/2 cup fresh basil pureed with just enough olive oil to make it liquid)
Sweet corn puree
Two ears fresh sweet corn, shucked and rinsed
3/4 cup milk (or soy milk, if lactose-free)
1 TB butter
salt to taste
1/4 cup chorizo, finely diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
Roasted tomato vinaigrette
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil puree
1 TB good balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
To make the vinaigrette: Quarter the tomatoes, place on a sheet of nonstick aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast on the grill (approximately 350 degrees) until tomatoes are soft and lightly browned. Saute the garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil until just browned, pour the entire mixture into a bowl, add the basil puree and balsamic, whisking to incorporate. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To make the corn puree: Shuck and rinse the corn, grill until tender and lightly charred (approximately 400 degrees). Let cool. Cut corn off cobs. Add one cob of corn to a blender and puree with milk. Add in the corn cut from the other cob and add butter. Salt to taste. Serve warm.
To make the chorizo: Add a small amount of olive oil to a small saute pan. Add diced chorizo, begin to brown, add garlic and saute until just brown. Set aside.
To make the fish: Drizzle the fish, inside and out, with olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice inside and out. Rub inside and out with basil puree. Place whole fish on nonstick aluminum foil and place on grill (about 400 degrees). Grill on one side for approximately 5 minutes, flip the fish with a large spatula and grill other side for approximately 5 minutes. Serve fish whole or remove meat as you can (depending on preference).
We served with puree on the bottom, snapper on top, vinaigrette drizzled over everything and crunchy chorizo sprinkled on top. Enjoy!
Nice combination of flavors and a beaut of a snapper indeed. It works well too to wrap a whole fish in aluminum foil to cook it on a grill. You can insert a fork in the thickest part until you hit the bone to check whether it’s done. Touch the fork below your lip. If it’s warm, the fish is done. The fish won’t flake as much if it’s cooked slightly less. Whole fish is more juicy than fillets, and it’s easier to judge its freshness.
Thanks for the tip, Stefan! If I’d wrapped the fish in foil, I would have been denied the pleasure of flipping it with our *giant* fish spatula! =) Messy, but delicious.
It usually sticks to the grill when I try to do that…