Friday, April 2, 2010

Who forgot to scale my red snapper?

Flounder have both eyes on one side of their head.Image via Wikipedia

I find my self buying more fish and related items at Costco in Hackensack. I used to drop into a Korean supermarket each week to browse among 20 or more different whole fish for our family meal, but I've been succumbing to the convenience of picking up lots of items at once in the warehouse store.

Costco usually has fillets of such wild fish as meaty haddock or the more delicate flounder (photo) that are great for frying. Starting in June, wild salmon will start showing up. Year round, you usually can find smoked wild salmon, lobster ravioli, king crab and corn chowder, and other items.

Costco also stages a Seafood Road Show, starting on Fridays, with enormous tiger shrimp, big crab legs, clams, mussels and other items, but we try to avoid farmed shrimp (because of habitat destruction).

On Thursday, I was checking out the fish fillets when I saw beautiful whole red snapper from Panama in shrink-wrapped foam trays that had been put out that day. Their eyes were clear. I bought a package of two that weighed a total of 2.2 pounds at $5.49 a pound. My wife loves the head, my son the tail and me the middle of the fish.

For dinner, I opened a can of diced tomatoes and another of tomato paste, emptied them into a large pan with a clear glass cover and added extra-virgin olive oil, Italian seasoning, red-pepper flakes, salt and garlic powder. I started to cut three slashes into the body of one fish when my wife noticed the red snapper had been gutted and cleaned but hadn't been scaled, and she grabbed a fork and went to work over the sink.

The two fish didn't fit into the pan, so I cut them in half  (nearer the tail), laid the pieces over the sauce, covered the pan and cooked them over medium heat until the exposed flesh turned white -- approximately 20 to 25 minutes. I served them with leftover yellow rice, crunchy French green beans I picked up on the same trip to Costco and warm pocket bread. If you use two cans of diced tomatoes and tomato paste, you can boil some pasta and cover it with the fish-flavored sauce.

The beans had been blanched in boiling water, then cooked for about five minutes in a covered pan with lemon-flavored olive oil, salt and Costco's organic no-salt seasoning. A wonderful meal, despite the need to scale the fish. But I plan to go to customer service today to register my complaint.

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