I absolutely LOVE seafood, even though I’m really challenged when it comes to cleaning and de-boning it (somehow I am always the only one at the table to choke on a fishbone) so I stick to shellfish and fillets as far as possible. I recently came across this new Pune based company called Fishvish, which promised to deliver ‘Blast Frozen’ seafood directly to your doorstep – music to my ears, because I had been planning some experiments with fish for a while but I was not prepared to go to the fish market by myself.
Usually, I avoid buying frozen food because I find it lacking in flavour, but while I was weighing my options it so happened that Fishvish discovered me and reached out for a collaboration. Their tagline is “Seafood Differently” and through our correspondence, I found out more about this ‘Blast Freezing’ method of theirs:
“When food is frozen, the water inside it crystallizes. If freezing takes place at relatively warm temperatures, the ice crystals which form will be large. In a blast freezer, the extremely cold temperature promotes very rapid freezing, which creates small ice crystals. The smaller the crystals, the less damage to the food, as large crystals can rupture cells. Once the food has been frozen, it can be moved to a more conventional freezer for storage, as long as the freezer stays cold enough to keep the food frozen.
Blast frozen food is usually frozen within 6 to 8 hrs after catching. Frozen food on thawing will be as fresh as it was when it was frozen. The fish available in Pune’s fish markets is typically between 1-3 days old depending on which port it is coming from.”
I like to know where my food comes from, so I also found out that they source their fish from Cochin, except Trout which is sourced from Himachal Pradesh and Indian Basa from Andhra Pradesh and their prawns are sourced from multiple locations i.e. Bhubaneshwar, Bhimawaram and Hyderabad. They stock varieties of seafood from Prawns and Kingfish to Crab and Tuna ranging from whole to de-boned and even filleted fish, which is super convenient, especially if you’re lazy about cleaning and gutting the fish yourself. You can find Fishvish online here.
The fish I decided on was Red Snapper, because not only is it my favourite fish, but it’s so versatile that it can be paired with a large number of flavour combinations. Red Snapper in a Lemon and Sage Butter Sauce with Garlic Veggies seemed like a good way to go. Struggling with choosing a method to cook the beautiful fillet of Snapper that Fishvish sent over, I kind of improvised and did my own thing after discussing several options with one of my Chef friends (thank you, Abhi kaka!). I know this recipe looks long and intimidating, but it really isn’t!! Here’s what happened:
For the Fish
1 Red Snapper Fillet (skin on)
2 Shallots (White Onion, diced)
3-4 Garlic cloves (with skins)
1 tbsp + 3-4 tbsp Butter
4 Sage leaves (fresh)
1 Lemon (sliced)
Salt (to season)
Defrost the fish, wash with water and set aside. If you can find a saucepan big enough to accommodate the whole fillet, then great – but I strongly suggest cutting it in half and making two smaller fillets (I was so happy with this gorgeous fillet that I didn’t even feel like chopping it up, so I cooked it as a whole).
Prep your baking tray with Foil layered with Baking Paper- fold up the edges a bit, layer in the Lemon slices and unpeeled Garlic (you will be adding the Snapper to this after the following step).
Add about 1 tbsp of Butter to a warm pan and toss in a couple of Sage leaves and the Shallots. Once the Sage leaves have turned lovely and crispy and the Shallots have softened, add the Snapper to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side (depending on thickness).
Once the fillet colours a bit on both sides (skin and flesh) quickly take it off the heat and place it gently on the Baking Paper prepped with the Lemon and Garlic. Season with Salt, layer on some generous blobs of Butter and more Sage leaves, wrap the whole thing up (leave room for the fish to breathe) and put it in the oven (preheat to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is almost an en papillote style of cooking the fish..what happens is, the Butter will melt into the fish, flavouring it along with the Sage and Garlic. The fish will steam and cook in these and its own juices in the little foil case we just made. Leave it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (again, depending on the thickness of the fillet). Better to have it slightly overdone than underdone, in my opinion, although neither is desirable.
Once you take it out of the oven, maybe leave it to rest for 5 minutes before opening the foil casing. You should get a lovely buttery, lemony aroma and the fish should be well cooked – white, soft and flaky. Ideally, open the foil at the table so that everyone will get that mouthwatering aroma too (I was trying to be fancy with my plating so I opened it prematurely). Perfection! Now, on to the sauce.
For the Sauce
1 cup Butter
3 leaves Sage (fresh)
1 Lemon (juice)
1 glass White Wine
1 tbsp Flour (combine with 1 tbsp butter for a roux)
This sauce took me ages to settle on, and after reading many different recipes, I just decided to follow my gut (literally). Start by adding the Butter and to a hot pan – it should melt beautifully, bubbling and frothing all the while.
Toss in the Sage, cook it until crispy. Add the roux of Flour and Butter (1 tsp : 1 tbsp) and keep stirring in circles with the back end of a spoon. This will help the sauce to thicken slightly.
Add the White Wine and keep mixing gently. Take it off the heat and slowly add the Lemon juice, to taste. Put the sauce back on the heat (low flame) and let it reduce. Keep tasting and stirring so that no lumps are formed and the sauce doesn’t burn. Once you find your flavours balanced and the sauce a good consistency – neither runny or clumpy – add it to a bowl and cover.
You’ll need this once we finish the last (and only healthy) element of this dish – the veggies!
For the Veggies
1 Broccoli head
2 cups Spinach
4-5 cloves Garlic (whole, unpeeled)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (to season)
I love my veggies just as much as the next guy, really, but I didn’t want to do too much on the side for this dish since the Red Snapper is the hero, after all. Roughly chop the Broccoli and Spinach leaves. Add the Olive Oil and whole Garlic cloves to a medium hot pan and let it infuse for a minute. Toss in the veggies and season with Salt and Pepper. Stir-fry til the Spinach looks just a little wilted and the Broccoli turns a vibrant green. Take out the whole Garlic cloves and serve the veggies alongside the fish.
Once everything is ready, ideally you would want to serve up the Red Snapper drizzled with the lovely Lemony Sage Butter Sauce and Garlicky Veg on the side. My presentation may not be ideal (too much sauce) but it tasted delicious, so I don’t care. As the culinary genius Julia Child once said, “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize”.