When I arrived in India, I was dedicated to serving classic French cuisine but struggled initially with my original recipes. Everything tasted different and I had difficulty finding ingredients that reacted in the same fashion as those at home. Faced with this situation, I turned to seafood and the very first recipe I served without alteration was the Snapper a la Meuniere. The term Meuniere literally translates to miller’s style and refers to the fact that the fillet is first dredged in flour before being cooked. I’ve always loved this dish for the delicious pan sauce, which is achieved by searing the fish, deglazing with lemon juice and building flavour with acidity and herbiness, all in one pan. This is a fantastic dinner recipe, best paired with a crisp sauvignon blanc.
Optional ageing of 1 week
- 2.5 kg whole red snapper
- 250 gm purslane
- 100 gm good butter
- 50 gm flour
- 12 gm capers
- 10 gm garlic
- 10 gm parsley
- 5 gm thyme
- 10 ml Meyer lemon juice
- 3 bread slices
- White vinegar
- Salt to taste
To Age Fish (Optional)
- Remove the fish’s head, fins and tail with a sharp knife or scissors.
- Prepare a vinegar wash in 10:1 (water:vinegar) ratio.
- Submerge the fish in the vinegar bath for 10 seconds, making sure every exposed part is in contact with the wash.
- Remove and pat it completely dry.
- Take a ‘S’ hook or a sturdy butcher’s thread. Puncture a hole in the tail end of the fish, insert the hook or thread through it.
- Hang it in the fridge for 6 or 7 days and check it daily.
- Once the fish is adequately aged, remove it and fillet and portion it, keeping the skin on.
To Cook Fish
- Heat a non-stick frying pan and drizzle some olive oil into it.
- Dredge the fish fillet in seasoned flour and place it (skin side facing down) in the pan. Be sure to press the fish down firmly with your hand or a fish slicer immediately (very important for a crisp skin).
- Place the garlic cloves and thyme (reserve a little for later use) on top of the fish.
- Toss in 4 knobs of cold butter in the medium hot pan.
- Take a spoon and keep basting the fish with the pan liquids until it is cooked (butter should be foaming during this process; achievable by maintaining right amount of heat on the pan and by keeping the butter moving at all times).
- By this stage the butter will turn brown. Add coarsely chopped capers to it.
- Drizzle in the lemon juice, adjust seasoning and finish with chopped parsley.
- In a separate pan, fry the bread (cut into croutons) in butter with reserved garlic and thyme.
- Sauté the purslane in brown butter. Place it on the plate in a mound.
- Put the pan-fried fish on top of the purslane and spoon the brown butter sauce on top of the fish, making sure pieces of capers also sit atop the fish.
- Sprinkle the butter-fried croutons.