Learning to fish was one of my favorite childhood experiences. As when gardening and pulling fresh carrots out of the ground, it is truly amazing as a child to pull a fish out of the water and know that you caught it yourself. My own experience and memory of it was enhanced by being taught by the best, my Uncle Ronnie, who just so happened to be a professional fly fisherman.
If you go to my Uncle Ronnie’s house, you’ll leave with a full belly of some locally, sustainably caught and humanely killed grub, and you’ll also leave with plenty of hilarious stories. Two of my personal family favorites are 1) how he convinced my trusting grandmother to stand up in front of my dad’s entire wedding rehearsal dinner party and tell everyone her dress came from a bargain bin; and 2) how my Auntie M insisted he stop for food on the way to Ted’s ranch in Montana (yes, that Ted), thereby missing a personal invitation from Jane to attend dinner at the big house.
All that background is to say that when Uncle Ronnie gives me a recommendation for a fish recipe, I sit up and listen. And you should too! Uncle Ronnie originally got this recipe from Chef Peter Sclafani of Ruffino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge; you can see Peter make the dish on the Louisiana Sportsman. I kept Uncle Ronnie’s wording on the instructions, for authenticity.
A few words (of mine) about ingredients: If you want to eat seasonally and avoid fresh tomatoes and basil this time of year, I find that the dried ingredients themselves–with some chopped greens–work great in winter months, making this a great year-round recipe. Although the title is “redfish,” you can use any sustainable fish with a steak-like consistency and taste that isn’t easily overpowered by other ingredients, i.e. Pacific cod yes, tilapia or Dover sole no. If you want to stick with redfish, I suggest looking for the sustainable deep-water red snapper from the west or vermilion snapper from the east.
|Fish pictured is wild Alaskan cod
Uncle Ronnie’s redfish pomodoro
1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced/quartered
1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in hot water and chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
4 redfish filets
Toss ingredients above (tomatoes through olive oil). Double heavy duty foil and cut a large heart shape, or parchment paper if you’re uppity. Creole seasoning on redfish, or whatever fish you’re using (farm-raised fish prohibited!). Throw on a half cup of tossed concoction on opened foil and put fish on top of veggies, presentation side down. Start at the top of the foil hinge and fold and press a seal all around the edge. Flip over and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Open top of foil and eat. We’ve done a variation of this that was served to us in Belgium. On it was some onion slices, fish, sliced tomato, spices, and provolone cheese on top. Simpler but also very good.