RED SNAPPER WITH LEMON, ONIONS, MUSTARD & HABAÑERO (POISSON YASSA)
Summer has officially begun, and with that, besides grilling it up, I like to go a bit lighter. This recipe is for a Senegalese-inspired fish, poisson yassa. Fish (here, I used snapper) is marinated with onions, garlic, lemon, bay, mustard and habañero pepper. After a quick sear of the fish and sauté of the onion mixture, it's all placed in the oven to bake and for the flavors to mingle.
The flavor is so amazing - with the sweetness of the caramelized onions, the tart bite of the mustard and lemon, and the heat from the habañero. I love that this preparation can also be used for chicken and lamb with obvious changes to cooking times. Enjoy!
4 white onions, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 habañero pepper, seeded, ribbed and thinly sliced
¼ cup canola or olive oil, plus more for cooking
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 filets red snapper (1 ½ - 2 lbs)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped (parsley, chives, cilantro)
In a bowl, mix together the onions, garlic, lemon juice and zest, habañero pepper, oil, vinegar, mustard, soy and bay leaf. This is the marinade for the fish. Transfer to a plastic bag or baking dish and make sure the fish is thoroughly coated. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes but preferably a few hours.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Remove filets from the marinade (reserving the marinade), dry off and season with salt and pepper.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan along with the butter over medium-high heat. When hot, add the snapper skin-side down. Cook for 3 minutes and remove to a plate (skin-side up).
Add the onion marinade mixture (juices and all!) to the skillet, reduce the heat slightly and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions start to soften. Remove from the heat, nestle the snapper filets in the onion mixture, cover with foil and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh herbs before serving. It's traditionally served over rice, but I also love it with some crusty bread.