From the very beginning, my relationship with my husband Walter also included a third entity – the ocean. This mariner drew me into his water world and his way of life when I was only 19 years old. He lured me into the sea by gifting me with a pair of fins and a mask and snorkel. I shadowed him as he killed fish with his Hawaiian sling and I learned how to cook what he shot.
His culture and his world were influenced largely by one thing – the ocean and all that her watery world encompassed. His clothes suited his passion for the water and his vehicle was chosen for its ability to tow his boat. His job was captaining vessels. Our catch was the basis for our meals. And while we were out capturing ocean delicacies, we listened to music inspired by the ocean: Jimmy Buffet, Christopher Cross, Stills and Young, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Seals and Croft, Styx, and so many others.
Things haven’t changed much for us since then. We spend a lot of time on the water with Paul Engle, the president of Bradford Marine in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We had all worked together in the Bahamas long before marriage and children, when all we had to do was fish, dive, work, and have fun. We bonded way back then and it’s been an enduring friendship for these past 30 years.
One weekend this past summer after a full day on the water of music blasting while we tossed fish in the boat, we wandered over to The Fish House Encore in Key Largo for supper. Paul ordered their signature fish dish and I sampled it. It was incredibly delicious and I was able to successfully recreate it once I was home. It’s now my new favorite way to prepare snapper.
Pan Sauteed Fish (Inspired by a Fish House Encore Recipe)
4 fish fillets (I prefer snapper for this recipe)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4-6 Tbsp real butter (salted or unsalted and Kerrygold brand if you have it)
Two large lemons
Sea Salt (optional)
Parsley garnish (optional)
Zest the lemons and set the zest aside. Slice lemons in half. Preheat coconut oil or real butter (3-4 Tbsp) in your skillet. Dip fillets in flour, dusting the surface lightly on both sides. When the oil or butter is hot, set your fillets in the skillet, sautéing on both sides until lightly browned and just cooked through. Set aside and keep warm. Turn down the heat on your stove and wipe out your skillet. Heat the remaining butter in the skillet until it is just melted. Squeeze in the juice from your two lemons, removing any seeds. Heat well but take care not to burn the butter. You will want a nice amount of this sauce, as it is what makes the dish, so if you need to add butter, lemon, do so. Taste and add salt if you you prefer. Pour the lemon sauce over the fish, and around it on your platter. Top with the lemon zest and fresh chopped parsley (if you like) and serve immediately.