I grew up landlocked in the Midwest andWest Texas. For me, seafood was a fried shrimp basket or catfish fillets dredged in cornmeal and fried golden brown. Until I found myself on the west coast as a 19 year old Navy Corpsman, the idea of eating a piece of fish that had never been frozen and hadn’t swum in a deep fryer seemed completely foreign. Fortunately, the San Diego waterfront and a Navy paycheck, which was big enough to allow an occasional off base meal, combined to give me the opportunity to expand my food horizons to include the wonders of “Catch of the Day”. I fell in love with Snapper, Yellowtail, Pacific Salmon, and whatever other “fruits of the sea” my limited budget allowed.
After the Navy I found myself in College and waiting tables at a family oriented, seafood chain restaurant. Before or after a shift, employees could eat meal for a discounted price, and being on a student budget, I almost always took advantage of this perk. One of the line cooks at the restaurant was a Trinidad native named Isaac. Isaac noticed that I almost always opted for a simple broiled fillet of something and, sharing my passion, always volunteered to prepare it for me himself… always perfectly. One day, before the busy lunch shift, Isaac informed me that he was making me lunch the way his mother often prepared it for him! “West Indies style, Mon.” I couldn’t wait for my shift to be over and spent the next 2+ hours imagining what it would be.
When the shift was over, I informed him that I was finished with my side work and ready for my lunch. 20 minutes later I was presented with a large plate, on which sat a rather crude looking foil pouch, puffed up with steam and emanating a luscious odor. The only accompaniment was a small bowl of rice. Isaac instructed me to carefully tear open the top of the pouch, eat its contents, and let him know what I thought. Yea, it WAS like opening a Christmas present! Inside the foil I found a beautiful piece of salmon, surrounded by diced onion, bell pepper and fresh tomato, all sitting in a steaming pool of its own broth and smelling like heaven with a splash of hot sauce!
To say that this dish left an impression on me doesn’t really do it justice. The fact that 35 or so years later, it is still my favorite way to prepare almost any kind of fish, and that I do it often, does. It is really simple and can be done as easily on the grill as in the oven. It can be done with any fish you would eat well done, meaning I wouldn’t use sushi grade tuna. However, my beautiful wife and I have enjoyed swordfish, flounder, cod, and yes, even fresh Atlantic Bluefish prepared this way. I am using salmon in the recipe, both as an homage to Isaac’s original preparation and because even my peeps in West Texas can get a good piece of salmon for dinner! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
1 lb Salmon Fillet cut into 2-8oz portions
1 Medium Onion Diced (about 1 cup)
1 Red or Green Bell Pepper Diced (about 1 cup)
1 Medium Tomato Diced (about 1 cup)
2 Cloves Garlic Finely Chopped
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce for medium heat. Adjust according to tolerance
1TBSP fresh lemon or lime juice
½ tsp Kosher Salt
½ tsp Ground Pepper
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
Place each fillet on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to have 6-8 inches extra on one side & fold completely over so the edges come together.
Mix Onion, Pepper, Tomato, Garlic, Tabasco, Lemon or Lime juice and seasonings together in a bowl.
Spoon Mixture equally over fillets.
Fold foil from one side, over the fillet and bring the edges of foil together.
Starting on either the top or the bottom, begin folding the foil at 45 degree angles and working around the foil until the fish is sealed inside the foil. Don’t make it too tight as it will expand with steam. You are trying to keep the liquid in the pouch while it cooks and there is no extra credit for neatness the first time!
Place pouches in an oven proof baking dish and place in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes.
These usually produce quite a bit of broth, so I usually serve it in a shallow bowl. Using a knife and fork you can easily remove the contents from the pouch in the bowl. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve with rice, potato or a hot loaf of crunchy French Bread.
Have fun with this. Hope you love it!
“There is no love sincerer than the love for food.” George Bernard Shaw
[tweetmeme source= ‘@DHagburg’ only_single=false]