Bistro V’s Jeremy Downey demos baked black snapper, Mediterranean style.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

As native of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, Bistro V’s owner and chef, Jeremy Downey knows seafood. Today he is cooking whole, Gulf Coast Black Snapper with house made Ragu. “Black Snapper is a cousin to Red Snapper. It is smaller in size, swims at 50 to 75 feet, and has a sweeter taste,” Downey explains.

The black refers to the black spots on the skin of the fish. Like Red Snapper, Black Snapper filets easily. Yet whole fish has more flavor and nutrients than filets because it is cooked with bones inside with skin on. The dish is not labor intensive yet it arrives to the table with a definite “Wow factor” presentation and flavors.

3 pound whole black snapper, scaled and rinsed
2 lemons, sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
3 pods garlic, smashed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Celery Stalks, diced
1 Shallot, chopped
1 Fennel, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Large can San Marzano Tomatoes
1 Cup Pinot Noir wine
2 Tablespoons Butter
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of dried parsley
Pinch of dried thyme

Place whole black snapper in roasting pan. Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemons, garlic, and thyme. Coat both sides of fish’s exterior skin with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
While fish is cooking in oven, begin making a Ragu. Saute celery, shallot, fennel, green pepper, garlic, salt and pepper in a skillet with one tablespoon of butter, over medium high heat. Sweat down the vegetables. Add wine and tomatoes. Do not over cook. Veggies should be partially raw.
Remove fish from oven. Uncover and pour Ragu over fish. Cook for 10 minutes longer so the Ragu becomes part of the fish, and the fish’s oils integrate into the Ragu. Remove from oven. The fish should be smoking hot, flaky and Add dabs of butter. Transfer fish to platter. Top with remaining Ragu. Serve with saffron rice, cappellini, or grits. Serves four to five people.

Published, B-Metro magazine, March, 2012