Saturday, March 26, 2011

snapper tartare

I'm expecting to create some opportunity for adventure with this project, and since snapper is available right off the shores here, I considered going out and catching it myself.
But then I saw all the citrus that was in this dish, and decided I would make this post about the acquisition of it. Which, for the most part, didn't involve putting on shoes.

Here is a picture of a grapefruit tree.

There are grapefruit in this dish. There is a grapefruit tree in my backyard, about 30 feet from my kitchen. They are pink grapefruit. We don't so much eat grapefruit, unfortunately. Unfortunate because this tree produces probably a couple hundred pounds of it a year. So whenever I see a recipe for something that might include grapefruit, I at least consider making it. So getting the grapefruit required for this dish was easy.

Here is a picture of a lemon tree.

I have been trying to grow Meyer lemon trees since we moved to Clearwater 11 years ago. I always have one or two going. Usually they die without ever giving any fruit. In 11 years, I have gotten two usable fruits from a collective four or five trees.

This tree is doing well, and is growing. So I'm hopeful. But it doesn't have any fruit on it. It was in bloom a couple weeks ago, and the backyard smelled great while it was. But now the blooms are all spent, and I don't see where any fruit has set. Grrrrr. So I got the lemons for this dish at the farmers market.

Here is a photo of an orange tree.

Note the fence between me and it. That's because it is in my neighbor's backyard. So to get the oranges for this dish, I waited for the dark of night, scaled the fence, picked the oranges and ran back to my house.

Not really. Actually, I picked a half-dozen grapefruit, walked next door, knocked and offered to trade the grapefruit for a couple oranges. They don't eat grapefruit either, but told me to go ahead back and take whatever I needed. It was such an easy transaction that I wished my neighbor had a bearing lemon tree.

Enough with the citrus. Here is a photo of a red snapper.

This red snapper was in the counter at IC Sharks, which has become my go-to fish place. I tried to go to a couple of the well-known, established places around here, and each time was stunned by the smell when I walked in. They smell like fish. A good fish store shouldn't. When I walked into IC Sharks, it smelled like there was fish smoking in the back. That is a completely acceptable smell.

So this isn't the fish I bought, because they already had filets cut in the case. I told the woman behind the counter that I needed a really, really fresh piece of fish because I was going to be serving it raw. She looked at me like I had just said that her kid was ugly. And, like, her favorite kid. "It was on the boat a couple of hours ago," she said. I took a whiff. It smelled like nothing. Exactly as it should. She took the skin off the filet for me, and I went home. Maybe next time I'll go fishing.

The rest of the produce came from the farmers market.

Putting this dish together was embarrassingly easy. A red pepper jus was just a matter of blending some peppers and straining. A jalapeno salsa requires a couple of seconds in the food processor. The citrus has to be segmented and juiced. The fish was diced in two minutes. The asparagus was on the grill for a few minutes to get a char.

Loved this dish. The key is the fish (as much as I tried to make it about the citrus). I got a great piece of fish, and it was totally worth it. It was like Italian sashimi.

Up next: san daniele, or dinner party, part I


Alan said...

A mutual friend of ours has a tree in his front yard that MIGHT be growing Meyer lemons. One of these days I'll remember (maybe) to pick one for testing.

Becky Bowers said...

Um, anytime you want to make more of that, you just let me know. I can still taste it. And it was startlingly awesome. That fresh fish flesh actually tasted creamy. Add some acid to that, and you've got something I want to eat all day. But, the real reason for this comment, other than to recall nom-ness, is: I just noticed capital letters! And I'm so, so, so happy!

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