“With enough butter, anything is good.” And so butter it shall be…. Crusty Red Snapper with Walnut Butter.
A mild flavored fish with a delicate yet crisp crust with butter leisurely melting on top; and not just butter butter… butter with chopped walnuts, tang from a zesty lime and its very own zest! Served with the simplest of sides; carrots and peas tossed in salted butter (more is good) and pan-fried potato chips. I daresay Julia Child would enjoy this but I certainly did and I have a feeling that you might as well.
I refrain from buying fish that has been prepared before hand. Why? For the very good reason that the fillets are prepared from fish that have been sitting on ice past their peak freshness. Fillets sell faster and are often discounted for this reason. And if they still go unsold for another day, they’ll be packed and frozen to be sold in the next couple of months. Frozen fish isn’t necessarily ‘not fresh’ or lacking in quality, you just have you make sure that it has been packed closest to the date it was caught and not sitting on ice waiting to be sold. (Confused you? Hang in there and I’ll post on Choosing Your Fish soon)
I prefer to choose a whole fish and then have the fish monger fillet it with the skin on. Not only does the skin prevent excessive moisture from escaping but it’s full of flavor! skin on or off, it’s a matter of personal choice and if you have finicky lil minions at you dining table!
Season the fish with a sprinkle of garlic salt and smoked paprika and rub it in. In case you don’t have either at hand, just use regular salt and grounded paprika. And in case you are wondering… garlic salt isn’t the same as garlic powder 🙂 if you can’t find it just use salt with a heavy pinch of garlic powder.
Grind the instant oats coarsely and place on a plate side by side with the corn flour or corn starch (whatever tickles your culinary fancy).
Drudge each Red Snapper fillet in the cornstarch….
Then into the whisked egg wash…
And finally coat it with the coarsely grinded oats.
Do that with each fillet till they are all ready. I always do one fillet at a time handling the cornstarch and oats with the left hand and the egg wash with the right hand. That way my fingers don’t get a crumb coating and mistaken for fish!
Get it? Finger fish? Haha..
Okay that was cheesy….
Heat the oil in a skillet and place the fish fillets skin side down into the oil. Yes, the oil is not deep… because I’m not deep-frying the fish although you can if you want to.
If the fillets are ½ an inch in thickness then you only need to cook them for 2-3 minutes skin side down and another minute once flipped over.
If they are an inch or more in thickness; place them in the hot oil skin side down for 2 minutes. Then turn the flame to medium and cover the skillet for 3-4 minutes to allow the fillets to cook through. Remove the cover and fry for another minute till the base is a lovely golden.
Flip the fillets over and cook till the other side is also golden brown and deliciously crusty. You can tell that the fillets are cooked when they shrink slightly and are firm when pressed at the center.
You can also deep fry the Red Snapper fillets for 5 minutes.
If you are a die-hard oven person, place them on a well-oiled aluminum sheet or cookie tray and bake for 30 min in a preheated oven at 180°C. And of course you will still need to flip them over half way through!
Zest the lime and then squeeze the lime juice. You don’t need so much so go ahead and make some lemonade with the extra juice!
Chop up the walnuts well. Allow the salted butter to soften completely.
Combine the lime zest, walnuts and lime juice with the butter and place it in the refrigerator till it is very cold and very firm. The butter can actually be prepared ahead of time.
You can pair the fish with any vegetables that you like. If you are baking the fish, you can just toss some carrots, leeks and zucchini in some seasoning and roast on a separate tray. I like to pair crumbed or crusty fishy affairs with buttered peas and carrots….
And thick chips with blistered skins…. Just like my mom served it! Some childhood flavors are hard to get over…
Arrange your veggies on one side and those essential chips on the other and place the Red Snapper fillets at the very center of course. Scoop out a good luxurious tablespoon of the cold butter and place it on the very top fillet. The butter will not melt immediately but rather soften till served. If the butter is not set firm and cold you will end up with a pool of melted butter and an excessive buttery film on the crust of the fillets.
Yes Julia, indeed…the fish to taste good must first swim in water and then in butter….
…till each bite is savored and gone…
- For the Fish
- Red Snapper Fillets with skin – approx. 300-350 grams
- ½ Teaspoon Garlic Salt or Regular Salt
- ½ Smoked Paprika or regular paprika - Grounded
- ⅔ Cup Cornstarch or Cornflower
- ½ Cup Coursely Grinded Instant Oats
- 1 Large Egg + 2 Tablepoons Water– Whisked
- ½ Cup Oil – For Frying
- For the Walnut Butter
- 2-3 Tablespoons Salted Butter
- ½ Teaspoon Lime Zest
- 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Walnuts- Chopped Small
- Serve with thick potato chips and any preferred veggies on the side.
- Make sure the fish fillets are well-drained and patted dry before you begin.
- Sprinkle the garlic salt and smoked paprika over the fish fillets and rub it in.
- Drudge each fish fillets with cornstarch, dip into the egg wash and coat with the grinded oats.
- Place aside till ready to fry.
- Allow the butter to soften completely. Add the chopped walnuts, lime zest and the lime juice and combine well. Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up.
- Heat the oil and place the fish fillets skin side down into the skillet.
- For ½ inch thick fillets, fry for 2 minutes on medium heat, flip over and fry for another minute till the crispy is golden.
- For fillets that are an inch or more in thickness, Pan fry at high heat for 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and cover the skillet for 3-4 minute. Remove cover; fry for another minute and then flip over to fry from the other side for another 1-2 minutes till the crust is crisp and golden.
- When done, arrange with the vegetables of your choice. Scoop out a good tablespoon of the hardened walnut butter and place on top of the hot fish fillet.
- Bon appétit!