Sunday, November 13, 2005


Stuffed Baked Red Snapper, Basque Style

Isabella had friends in for dinner this weekend, and she served this savory whole baked, stuffed red snapper. It was easy to assemble and made a spectacular presentation. I'm sure you could use any firm fleshed whole fish with this recipe.

For information on this fascinating part of Spain/France, go here.

For more Basque recipes, go here.

For dessert, I made a lemon custart tart (recipe follows red snapper)

Here's the recipe for the red snapper:

4 lbs. whole red snapper, scaled and gutted (my snapper actually weighed 3 lbs. 22 oz.)
Salt and freshly grund black pepper
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (1/4 inch thick) slices of lemon


1/3 cup olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and diced
1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large red potatoes, peeled and sliced, 1/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves only, minced

Rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry, inside and out. Place in a shallow glass or ceramic platter. Srpinkle the fish inside and out with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Whisk the olive oil and garlic together and pour over the fish, rub it into the skin on both sides. With a very sharp knife, make 3 incisions right down to the bone and insert a lemon slice into each one. Cover with plasti wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 5 hours.

To make the sofrito, heat the olive oil over low hear in a large heavy skillet. Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes or until translucent. Add tomatoes, olives, salt, oregano, and wind. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is thickened, stir in the Tabasco and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the upper middle position. Rub a large roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place the sliced potatoes in overlapping rows to make a square. Season them generously. Wrap the tail of the snapper in foil and place the fish on to of the potatoes. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Bake until the fish is done through and flaky, about 45 minutes. Reheat the sofrito over low heat for the last 8 to 10 minutes of the fish's cooking time.

Slide the fish onto a large oval platter and arrange the potatoes at the top and bottom of the platter. Spoon the tomato sauce along the sides and remove the foil from the tail. Srpinkle the parsley over all and serve.

Lemon Custard Tart


3 eggs, separated
zest and juice from 1 1/2 medium lemons
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp. salt


1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 tablespoons whole milk
9 in tart pan (with removable bottom)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Crust: Mix together oil and milk. Pour over the flour mixture. Stir until no dry flou is left. Press dough into tart pan.

Filling: Beat egg yolks. Add lemon zest and juice, condensed milk and salt. Mix together. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into lemon mixture. Pour into unbaked crust. Bake 40 minutes.

Dust with confectioners/powdered sugar, and decorate with thin lemon slices.

Isabella served the fish with a pinot noir and it worked beautifully with this hearty dish.

This will impress your guests and be an unforgettable dinner.


Oooooh - to both those!

You know I love lemon! I have a question abou that recipe: the condensed milk, do you mean sweetened condensed milk? I assume so because there isn't any other sugar. I ask because it's always referred to up here as sweetened condensed milk and I know we have different stuff than south of the border.

Again - cookbook worthy photos! You're amazing with your digital!

Yes, it is sweetened condensed milk. I should have been more precise. I'll correct that in the recipe. And thanks for pointing it out.

I don't have very many dessert recipes on this site, but it is interesting that the few that are here have lemon in them. (And one of them, thanks to you.)
I've never had Basque food, but if it is as good as Basque music, I think I would love it. When I've traveled the American mountain west, chasing trout, I have been surprised to see Basque restaurants in the unlikeliest little towns. Next time out, I'll make a point of trying one.
This looks heavenly. If you were going to substitute a different fish, what would you use? (We have some people here who don't like red snapper.) Is flounder the right consistency?

I was just looking through some cookbooks a friend of mine loaned me. They are Canadian and were produced from a small press in Calgary. What do I find? A recipe for MUFFULETTA! It's very similar to your recipe.

I found this interesting, since I mentioned on that post that I'd never heard of it, but someone from Alberta must have been down south and was very impressed.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Mr. A.,

You could use the sofrito on anything. I had some left over from this fish dish and used it as a sauce for pasta. It was delicious!


I'm not sure flounder would be fleshy enough to do well in this recipe. But perhaps a sea bass could be substituted?

Wandering Coyote,

Great find. Thanks for letting me know.
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