This Delightfully Simple Fish Recipe Has an Unexpected Secret Ingredient

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This recipe was given to me by my friend from Atlanta, Connie.

Although we met and became friends when we were both tweens living in Mobile, Alabama, Connie is my “friend from Atlanta”. Even when she traveled the world to live in Nairobi, Kenya, I still referred to Connie as my friend from Atlanta. She moved to Atlanta after college, and except for a few years she spent in Africa and a short stint later in Palm Springs, California, Atlanta has been her home for most of the past 30 years. years.

Connie is an epicurean, a foodie, a bon vivant, a lover and a fan of gastronomy. She is known for going very far and traveling long distances to experience the best of the best of the best. From meager hiking in her youth to the most lavish transportation as she grew older, Connie traveled the world to beautiful hidden places of unparalleled beauty and amazing cuisine.

Her true passion is finding pristine, uninhabited places and going there with those she loves. Somehow, no matter how far or far her destination may be, Connie manages to have something special like a magnum (or two) of La Grande Dame waiting and many more to follow.

Nothing if not prepared, Connie is also an accomplished chef, restaurateur and sommelier. She’s a tiny little powerhouse of a person who doesn’t take bullshit, tells it like it is, and challenges anyone to underestimate her. She can stand only 5 feet tall and look like a big gust could knock her down, but make no mistake, my friend is a force.

Connie started cooking professionally in Atlanta as a personal chef under her trade name, “Spoon”, but became part owner of “Kosmos”, a restaurant for which she created the menu and served as executive chef. This snapper recipe started in her home kitchen, but has become a menu mainstay and customer favorite at Kosmos. You can substitute any freshly caught wild fish, but red snapper is awfully hard to beat.

Like her fast-paced hometown of Atlanta, Connie has a frenetic and exciting energy about her. If she’s not working hard, she’s playing hard with her finger still firmly on the pulse of all the current “best”. Connie knows the current better restaurant and can get reservations; she knows the better where to go right now; and she knows several better wines to have for the current season or even for your mood of the moment. She’s on it; she takes care of it. Enjoy not having to make decisions, in fact, allow him to order for you as well. Relax, you are in good hands.

Connie introduced me to the art of self-indulgence and self-care in my early twenties, giving me several “firsts”: my first massage and facial, my first weekend at a spa, my first bottle of Verve Clicquot, as well as my first multi-course gourmet dining experience, to name a few.


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From her I gained an appreciation for table etiquette and hospitality while trying to absorb everything I could about food and wine. Thanks to Connie, I can still explain to anyone who wants to listen how Champagne can only be called “Champagne” if it comes from the Champagne region of France, more specifically from the city of Reims or Epernay.

I could go on and on, because I am the queen of French Champagne meticulousness. Although I didn’t retain as much practical cooking knowledge as I would have liked to have, I am clear about the difference between uppercase “C” champagne and lowercase “c” champagne. And I think of Connie every time I open a nice bottle.

Connie was the first person to introduce me to sushi and rafting. She was also the reason I traveled to Africa on what was literally the trip of a lifetime, where I was introduced to some amazingly beautiful places I could never have dreamed of. Connie made me my first martini and the best carrot-ginger soup I’ve ever tasted. Without a doubt, she played a vital role in my life and helped shape who I am today. She taught me how to cook with confidence, how to host graciously, and what generosity looks like.

What a fateful day it was when we met as children over 40 years ago! None of us could have imagined the winding paths our lives would take, or what each of our lives would look like at our current age. I am lucky to call her my friend and happy beyond measure to share this recipe.

Like all my favorite summer meals, this recipe takes very little time to prepare and cook.

Like all my favorite summer meals, this recipe takes very little time to prepare and cook. Most of the time, I only cook for two. So I cook the fish in my toaster oven, which is great when you’re in the middle of another one heat wave with three-digit heat indices. (At this rate, I might have to leave my oven off until October!)

Because banana salsa comes together so quickly and doesn’t need to marinate long, you can really whip it all up in no time. Snapper is plentiful in the summer where I live, but choose any fresh, firm, soft fish for this recipe.

If you’re so inclined and want to step into Connie’s world (which I highly recommend!), here’s something to try. Find the prettiest spot (outside with a great view if possible), whip out your fanciest champagne flutes, invite a dear friend over, and crack open a cold bottle of French champagne (Verve Clicquot will do the trick!). Raise a toast to friendship, to the beauty that surrounds you, and to the delicious nectar of the gods that you are lucky enough to drink. Laugh together, be poetic, share the challenges you face.

It’s madness – and completely frivolous – but two friends making time for each other in our now busy and busy world is in itself cause for celebration. Here for you! Here is Connie! Cheers!

A Note on Red Snapper

The accompaniment steals the show in this dish which marks another successful season for red snapper.

In Alabama, red snapper season begins on the last Friday in May or the first Friday in June and spans consecutive four-day weekends through mid-August. In Florida, the season will have 12 extra days this fall.

Rarely found north of the Carolinas and primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, it is a delicious, firm, lean, and sweet fish found at depths from 30 to over 600 feet.

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Snapper Fingers (Courtesy of Bibi Hutchings)snapper fingersBanana Salsa (courtesy Bibi Hutchings)

Connie’s Snapper Fingers with Banana Salsa

Ingredients

snapper fingers

  • 1 1/2 cups plain potato chips, evenly and thoroughly crushed
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound red snapper fillets, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup milk

banana salsa

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed yellow, red and/or green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1-2 fresh limes
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. First, make the salsa by combining all the salsa ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (See chef’s note)

  3. Next, combine the crushed chips and cheese in a shallow dish.

  4. Pour the milk into a separate shallow dish.

  5. Place fish in milk, then piece by piece, remove and dip in chip mixture, placing each piece on a greased baking sheet in a single layer.

  6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the fish reaches the degree of doneness you prefer.

  7. Serve with banana salsa.


Cook’s Notes

If you don’t have avocado or grapeseed oil, opt for a neutral-tasting salad oil.

I made this salsa and only let it marinate for as long as it took me to prepare and serve the fish. If you have time to do it early, do it, but it will still be good if you get closer to service time.

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