Fishing for Compliments

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You won’t have to fish too hard to get a thumbs up on this recipe. It’s the best kind – the kind where you ask an expert. When we go to our favorite beach vacation spot, Fernandina on Amelia Island, our first excursion is to Atlantic Seafood on the tip of the pier. It’s owned by a lovely gentleman who has lived there forever except for a brief 4 years at Sewanee in the 1960’s. I’ve been going so long now that we’ve become friends and being friends can only mean one thing – we share recipes. I know I’ve got the better end of this deal, because this guy knows more about cooking seafood than any cookbook, shiny magazine, or Food Network show can ever offer. It’s best to visit in the late afternoon after the last boats have come in and see what’s fresh. Last March that meant big fat stone crab claws that were cracked to order. This past visit, we sampled  Pompano, blue crab, fresh oysters, and the mysterious Lane Snapper. After a brief snapper tutorial, I learned that Lane Snapper are smaller than most snapper and prized for delicious white flaky meat. My friend divulged his 10-minute super easy crowd-pleasing recipe and I was sold – hook, line, and sinker! (Couldn’t resist.) This dish was the hit of the vacation – in fact we went back to the shop and bought more the next day. Even my seafood suspicious husband couldn’t get enough of this delicious snapper for dinner. Now back home in Nashville our snapper choices are limited. Red Snapper is the most accessible, but would it be as good as the fresh Lane Snapper? Well, the beach was missing from the dinner backdrop and maybe fewer festive beverages were involved, but the snapper was just marvelous. We’ve only been home a couple of weeks and already this meal has been a favorite of the house. 

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It’s a favorite for the cook too – no prep (no kidding) and 10 minutes from oven to table. The hardest thing you have to do is cut a lemon in half. A stove savvy six-year-old or even my kitchen challenged husband could make this dish. It’s that simple – fish- wine- butter – panko – parmesan – ten minutes - done. That’s it. The fish goes in a pan, the wine goes around the fish, dot the fish with butter and put the pan on middle rack of the oven on broil. Oh - a little salt and pepper won’t hurt. After eight minutes check and see if the fish flakes (It probably will). Remove the pan and top the fish with panko and parmesan to cover the top. Back in the oven it goes for a minute or two until it’s lovely and brown. Squeeze a little lemon on top and Ta-Dah – there you have it – a delicious dinner. Compliments will follow. Make this very soon and enjoy!

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Fernandina Snapper


1 snapper fillet per person

White wine to fill about ½ inch of the pan

1 tsp butter per fillet

Salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Panko – about 2 Tbsp per fillet

Parmesan cheese (the kind in a green can is fine) about 1 Tbsp per fillet

Lemon to squeeze over fish


Preheat oven to broil and place a rack in the middle of the oven.

Spray a casserole dish large enough to hold fish with cooking spray.

Place fish in the dish and pour wine around it – covering about ½  inch of the fish.

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Top each filet with a tsp of butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.

Place casserole dish in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes.

Remove casserole dish and check for flakiness.

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Top each filet with panko and parmesan cheese and return the casserole dish to the oven for about 2 minutes or until the panko and parmesan are browned.

Squeeze with lemon and serve immediately.

© Deer One Publishing 2019