Grilled Snapper On the 'Half-Shell'

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I grilled up a couple of Red Snapper filets this evening. They tasted great. I'm glad I brought my vacuum-sealer on my last fishing trip (see Holy Mackerel!). I had sealed up two filets (both sides of one fish) in each of four bags. I put them in the freezer when I got home from my trip. Tonight I thawed out one package. When I opened the package, I noticed that there was no fishy smell at all. I had to scale the fish, though -- which was a little upsetting. I paid a guy at the dock twenty bucks to clean our fish; I assumed he had scaled them first. Next time I will make sure. He prepared them 'On the half-shell', in other words with the skin on. After scaling the fish, I put the filets on ice until I was ready to cook.

My grill has three three burners, and three grates. I wrapped foil around two of the grates, with the shiny side facing in. I heated up the grill, keeping the flame on medium low under the two foiled grates, and on high under the third grate. I brushed olive oil onto the foil, and let the grill heat up nice and hot.

Meanwhile, I cut in half some small red potatoes - enough for two people. I put them in the microwave for three minutes. This is a trick I have figured out through trial and error. By microwaving potatoes, you are essentially steaming them. Three minutes is enough to cook them through, so that they are soft on the inside. I had a big cast-iron skillet with some bacon fat, that I heated up nice and hot. After the potatoes finished in the microwave, I put them into the hot skillet. The bacon grease crisps up the outside of the potatoes, but the insides are soft from the microwave. It takes about 15 minutes to finish the potatoes, to where they are browned up nicely. So I put the potatoes in the pan, and attended to the fish.

I pat each filet dry with a paper towel, then brushed on some olive oil, on each side of the filet. I sprinkled lemon-pepper and kosher salt on each side of each filet. By now, the grill was good and hot. I placed each filet on the foil, skin side down, then closed the lid.

Back in the kitchen, I sliced a lemon and a lime very thin. I gave the potatoes a flip and a stir, then set back for about 8 minutes. I checked on the fish -- they were cooking up nicely. I squeezed a little lime juice on each, making sure not too squeeze too much and risk flaming up and catching the foil on fire. When foil burns, it puts out an acrid smoke that can ruin your meal. I flipped each filet, so that the skin side was up, then closed the lid.

I went back to the kitchen, and gave the potatoes a stir. You don't want them to cook too long on one side, because they might burn. After about 4 more minutes, the potatoes looked done. I put some paper towels in a glass dish, then spooned the potatoes into the dish, to soak up any extra bacon grease. This is the best time to season the potatoes. As Emeril Lugosi says, 'their vulnerable' at this stage. When you salt and pepper them in this state, they become 'happy'. I cut a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden, and blotted the potatoes. Fresh rosemary has such a pungent aroma, that there is no need to cut it up. Blotting the potatoes is enough to get a subtle flavor of rosemary, without becoming over-powering. Bam!

By this time, the fish had been cooking a total of 16 minutes. I used a wide spatula to get the fish off the grill - the olive oil kept the fish from sticking to the foil. I put the fish into a glass pan, then covered them with the lemon and lime slices.

I let the fish rest for a couple of minutes under the lemon and lime, then removed the slices before I served it with the potatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection. It was flaky and moist, and had a wonderful flavor. I think it would have tasted great with some chilled chardonnay. Next time I will add some greens to the mix, and find a nice bottle of wine.

Bon Appetit!

About me

  • I'm Scott Gaspard
  • From Austin, Texas, United States
  • I really like to fish. I go every chance I can. You can pretty much bet that at any given moment, I'm using whatever spare cycles I have to plan my next trip.
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