Nearly 30 years ago, I had a surprise birthday party for Buck and served a complete Mexi-style menu. He particularly likes red snapper so I used it as the focal point of the meal. He still talks about the way I prepared it and it really is
delicious and beautiful. It does take a little time to prepare, but it's well worth it. There wasn't a bite left on the serving platter. Yum!
BAKED RED SNAPPER STUFFED WITH SHRIMP AND VEGETABLES
1 (2½-lb.) red snapper or sea bass,
Salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. bottled picante sauce
(green chili salsa)
1 sweet green pepper
1 sweet red pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
3 green onions, finely chopped
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup fresh bread crumbs, about
½ lb. large shrimp, peeled,
deveined and halved lengthwise
4 tsp. lemon juice
4 tsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro or
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
Take center bones out of fish, trying not to tear back of fish, so that you have a pocket the full length of the fish. If using snapper fillets, sew 2 fillets together with kitchen string, leaving the other side open for a pocket. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 fillets. Salt and pepper inside and out, brush with the 3 tablespoons butter inside and out, then rub picante sauce lightly over inside.
Place peppers on broiler pan, about 5 inches from heat. Broil, turning to char skin all over. Enclose peppers in paper bag. Let stand about 15 minutes; skins will slip right off. Halve and seed peppers. Finely chop half of each pepper; cut remaining halves in thin strips.
Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Sauté green onions and all but 2 tablespoons of the almonds until onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Add bread crumbs, the chopped red and green pepper, and half the shrimp. Sauté just until shrimp are pink. Stir in 1 teaspoon each of the lemon and orange juices, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the chicken broth, mixing lightly. Taste; add salt and pepper, if needed.
Spoon stuffing into fish. Place fish in a rectangular baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons almonds, remaining shrimp, the sliced red and green peppers and the remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro. Note: I place the pepper strips in a “V” shape, alternating red and green, down the length of the fish.
Combine the ¼ cup chicken broth with the remaining 3 teaspoons lemon and 3 teaspoons orange juice in a cup; pour over fish. Cover fish and pan with foil.
Bake in preheated 375º oven for 30 minutes or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork. Remove foil the last 5 minutes of baking so fish will brown. Transfer fish to a bed of shredded lettuce on a warm platter. Deglaze the pan, if you wish, with an additional ¼ cup orange juice and ¼ cup chicken broth. Reduce the deglazing liquid by a third; pour over fish.