Friday, January 27, 2012

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Curried Yellowtail Snapper in Parchment

Here's an easy prep,  easy clean-up way to roast fish that's basically foolproof - it's very easily modified to suit your taste and super yummy.   Once you're done serving the meal,  just toss the parchment in the trash and clean up is done.
The sauce in this recipe is merely one of an endless number of ways you could flavor your fish or seafood of choice.   As I was blending the ingredients for this sauce last night,  my mind was racing with all the other possible combinations of ingredients  - I'll post those as I make them for dinner here.  I picked Yellowtail Snapper at the fish market yesterday - these were the absolute freshest steaks in the window and they were calling my name:  "Auriaaaaaaaaa,  take us hoooome!"  Yellowtail Snapper is a lean, white-meat fish with a firm texture and a mild flavor that lends itself to whatever you can come up with to throw on it.  You can also use salmon, grouper, swordfish, tilefish, shrimp or scallops.
In Malaysia,  grilled fish is usually cooked and served in giant new lotus leaves.   Some people use banana leaves in this way as well.  I think if you're grilling or roasting,  lotus leaves are your best bet as they do not burn and flake the way banana leaves do.   I'll make a note to get some when I'm in Chinatown next and perhaps do this recipe but with a Nyonya-inspired sauce instead. 

Curried Yellowtail Snapper in Parchment  (serves 4 - 6)
4 Yellowtail Snapper steaks
2 large pieces of parchment paper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coconut milk (substitute with regular milk or unflavored, unsweetened almond milk)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/2 red onion
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 

8 thin tomato slices
1 small bunch of cilantro - chopped

Preheat your oven to 400F.
Lay a large piece of parchment paper on a baking tray.  Arrange the fish steaks or seafood of your choice in the center of the paper.  Season with salt and pepper.
Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender.  Blend well.   Spread generously over the fish,  making sure to cover the sides as well and reserving just a little bit of the sauce.  Lay two pieces of sliced tomato on each steak,  and spread with the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the dressed fish and now it's time to party!
Cover the fish with the second piece of parchment and fold the sides of both pieces together, crimping and rolling to form a tight seal.  Bake for 20 minutes - the rule of thumb for fish is 15 minutes per inch of thickness for fillets.  I added five minutes because these were bone-in steaks.  Here's what it looked like when the tray came out of the oven -
And here it is served with plain white rice and some easy sautéed spinach.  I hope you'll make this easy dish and fill me in on how it turned out for you.  Next time - Nyonya- style baked fish in lotus leaves! 
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