My brother and I came up with this dish in Florida when we found ourselves with a beautiful fresh Pompano.
Pompano is a delicate white fleshed fish. It is sustainable, delicious and a real specialty in Florida. This version adds to its geographic appeal with plenty of tropical flavors. It is a great example of tandem cooking because our minds were working together and the recipe practically wrote itself. —Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)
plantain, just beginning to turn yellow but still firm
Wondra, extra fine flour
cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Cilantro Butter, Salsa and Fish
spiced rum, such as Captain Morgan
cilantro leaves, minced
unsalted butter, room temperature
small red onion, diced
small red bell pepper, diced
small ripe habenero, seeds and ribs removed, minced
Peel and slice the plantains into 3/4 inch thick discs. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a well seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add the canola oil and continue heating another minute or so.
Cook the plantains on both sides until just beginning to brown and soften. Remove the par fried slices to a paper towel lined plate and carefully smash and flatten each slice to about 3/8-inch thick, taking care to keep them intact. The bottom of a glass works well.
Meanwhile mix the Wondra and spices together. Then dredge the smashed plantains in the flour mixture until well coated. Return them to the still hot pan and cook them until well browned on both sides. Serve warm alongside the fish.
Cilantro Butter, Salsa and Fish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make the cilantro butter by combining butter, minced cilantro and rum. Place mixture on plastic wrap, and form into 1 1/2-inch thick log. Place in refrigerator to set.
“Supreme” the oranges by slicing off the peel and pith in strips, then removing each section of citrus by slicing between the membranes. Reserve peel. Combine the orange supremes, onion, bell and habanero peppers, and cilantro leaves in a bowl and mix well. Then add the avocado and lime juice, carefully folding the mixture to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut the lime slices in half forming half-moons. Prepare the whole pompano by cutting 4 vertical parallel slices, about 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart, down each side of the fish. Stuff each cut with 1 half-moon shaped lime slice on both sides. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with any reserved citrus peels and the small bunch of cilantro. Drizzle both sides of the fish with olive oil and season with more salt and pepper. Place in an oiled, shallow baking sheet and roast, without turning, 25-30 minutes; until you see the skin bubbling slightly and swelling. Remove from oven. Flesh should feel lightly firm and springy. Fillet the fish at the table for a dramatic presentation. Remove top fillet by cutting along and on top of backbone, carefully lift fillet off the bones, working from the top of the fish down to it’s belly. Transfer this fillet to a serving plate. Then remove the bone structure from the fish by carefully lifting up on the tail towards the head, exposing the bottom fillet. Turn this fillet over, skin side up, to serve.
Slice cilantro butter into discs, and place 1-2 discs on each fillet on the flesh side. Spoon salsa over fillets, garnish with mixed citrus zest and serve warm with the plantains.