CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pan-Seared Red Snapper

Many of the healthiest diets that are being touted these days include fish. And there is good reason. Several kinds of fish and seafood contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to human health.

But why are they essential?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health and the Mayo Clinic, among others, omega-3 fats are special because they have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

To that end, the American Heart Association and other agencies recommend eating a variety of fish at least twice a week, and red snapper is an excellent choice for a healthy diet. While it is not as high in omega-3 fatty acids as others such as salmon, it is a good source.

Here’s a recipe we tried recently that I like for a couple of reasons: It takes little time to prepare and is awful tasty.

And that’s on top of being good for you!

Pan-Seared Red Snapper
2 4-ounce red snapper fillets red snapper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Rinse snapper under cold water, and pat dry. In a shallow bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar, mustard, honey, green onions, and ginger.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dip snapper fillets in marinade to coat both sides. Place in skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Pour remaining marinade into skillet. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with vegetables.

JUSTIN WELSH: Food Muse — Walleye En Pappilote

I love old school technique in cookery. We as humans have come a long way from fire. Imagine the lessons learned along the way. Those lessons that later have become techniques — or rules — in cookery.

Why are the rules of a proper sauté important to follow? Hot pan, little oil/fat, ingredients cut very fine for fast finishing. You simply cannot place all those ingredients into a pan, turn on your burner and expect the same results.

One challenge I face often preparing for large groups of guests is always keeping the food hot and fresh. I often cook meals as close to the set eating time so the food is as good as it can be. Many factors can greatly effect achieving this, but when successful, it is a great feeling.

Fish, when ordered in bulk for guests, is a tough one. Cooking two to three at a time for restaurant service is easy and simple; cooking for 50 plus, there is little room for error. Cook it too soon, the fish may dry out, shrink, begin to fall apart, become tough and chewy. Cook it too late, and it may not be cooked all the way, which depending on the fish, may not be a bad thing.

The technique of this preparation gives the chef a little more wiggle room and shrinks down the chances of ruining the fish. The term is walleye cooked in paper.

Around here, we love to bread and deep-fry our walleye. This is sort of the same thing, just a much lighter and healthier version.  The breading protects the delicate fish and steams it within. Cooking it in paper does the exact same thing.

Parchment paper is used in most kitchens. If you want to get really old school, season the fish as you would and cover it in clay and bury into the earth over hot coals.

In kitchens, we often get precut sheets of parchment paper — halves and wholes.  For a fillet up to 8 ounces, I use half-sheets. These will typically be the right length for that size. Anything bigger you may need to use a whole sheet.

Walleye En Pappilote
1 half-sheet of parchment paper
1-8 ounce skinless fillet of walleye
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 small splash of white wine — something not too dry
¼ tomato chopped into small dice (seeded and skinned if preferred but not necessary)
1 lemon zested, halved (the first half sliced; the other part will be for juicing over fish)

Gremolata
Lemon zest chopped fine
2 cloves garlic minced
Fresh parsley chopped fine

Mix the minced garlic, parsley and lemon zest together.

Folding the parchment sheet in half lengthwise, you then begin to make a heart shape. Sort of like when you first used scissors in school. Starting a little farther in the sheet, you cut outward and back in. Open the paper up and reveal your heart shape.

I will take some melted butter and spread it over the sheet. Then I take the flat side of the fish and place it along the crease of the paper.

At this point, I will add a little more melted butter over the fish. Now you can season the fish further. Sprinkle your salt over top, a gentle squeeze of lemon juice, white wine, tomato and then your gremolata.

Now you can begin to close the sheet. I like to start from the tip shape of the paper, folding the paper in toward the rounded side of the fish and then working my way to the other side of the paper, where I will tuck the paper in to itself to prevent the juices from escaping.

Place your en pappilote on a sheet pan and top with a slice of lemon. Pop it into a 350-degree oven for roughly 8 to 10 minutes, all depending on the size of the fillet.

Once the fish has been removed from the oven, let cool for a minute or two before serving. This will not only let the fish rest for a short moment, but it will allow time for the steam to settle making the paper finger friendly from burn. When you open up the paper, you will have the most delicate fish that is sitting in a flavorful beurre blanc sauce

I enjoy this dish alone, followed by a vegetable side or salad. You can serve this for your next dinner party as a way to wow your guests.

Happy fishing and eating to all!

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Poached Halibut In Alfredo White Wine Sauce

If you’ve ever had a halibut meal in a restaurant or bought fillets in a supermarket, you probably remember it. That’s because halibut not only is tasty, it’s also pricey.

In grocery stores or fish markets, halibut can go for up to $24 to $30 a pound. Partaking in a restaurant can mean up to $40 a plate, even in Alaska, where the majority  of the prized fish is caught.

But if you are lucky enough like me to have “an Alaska connection” — someone who lives there and goes out and catches their own halibut — it’s considerably easier on the pocketbook.

One of my cousins, Paul Hendrickson, lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and has for more than 30 years. Fishing, along with hunting, is probably the main reason he decided to settle and raise his family there.

Whenever he comes home to visit, he usually brings with him a nice cache of seafood, including salmon and halibut. To say he is generous in sharing the fish with friends and relatives would be an understatement.

Although halibut is quite tasty baked, grilled or broiled, I’ve discovered poaching to be my favorite method. It is a delicious and healthy way to prepare many kinds of fish, including halibut, while keeping it super tender,

Here is a recipe for poached halibut, from an Anchorage business, FishEx, which sources fresh seafood from around the state and from reputable fish mongers located up and down the United States’ coasts.

It’s an entree that doesn’t take long to prepare, is very mouth-watering and one you will be sure to remember.

Poached Halibut in Alfredo White Wine Sauce
1 pound halibut fillet
2 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried chives
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
1 15-ounce jar creamy Alfredo sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium hot large frying pan, add olive oil. Throw in the garlic and the parsley and mix well. Add in the green onions, chives, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper and stir for about 2 minutes.

Add the white wine and while continuing to stir let the whole thing come up to a simmer. Now, pour in the Alfredo sauce. Bring this back up to a medium simmer and get it off the heat.

Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling water, add some salt. Add halibut fillet and let simmer till done (about 4 minutes).

Remove halibut to a serving plate and proceed to ladle over the sauce mixture.

Serve with boiled red potatoes, rice or quinoa, a nice salad and a few slices of tomato.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Brazilian-Style Baked Fish

There are many great sites on the Internet to find recipes. A good number of them feature not only tasty ones but healthy ones, too.

One of my favorites in this genre is that of American Institute for Cancer Research, which features recipes that have been rigorously tested by and approved by AICR devolopers, dietitians and staff (www.aicr.org/test-kitchen/).

I’m particularly fond or the AICR, since both Therese and I have had bouts with the disease and another family member is battling breast cancer now. The AICR champions cancer research by funding scientists and funding research.

AICR’s research focuses on how food, nutrition, physical activity and weight management affect the prevention, treatment and survival of cancer.

Among the accomplishments of AICR:

— It was the first cancer charity to fund research into diet and cancer and translate the results into practical information for the public.

— It was the first cancer charity to issue recommendations for cancer prevention based on a comprehensive review of global research.

— It funds research that explores the effect of food, nutrition, physical activity and body weight on the development, treatment and survival of cancer.

— It has funded critical cancer research programs for more than 30 years.

Over the years, I’ve used numerous recipes from the AICR site. And for the most part, I’ve never been disappointed. Here is one that’s quite appropriate, since Lent started this week.

Of course, it’s a fish recipe. The AICR people bill the recipe as a fresh way to spice up an old standby.

Fish has a large role in any healthy diet, and seeking out bold new ways to prepare it is a great way to keep this simple, versatile food interesting.

The fish used in the recipe is halibut, which is readily available in many supermarkets, including those in our area. It also contains shrimp. Both are among my favorites.

It also features the herbs parsley and cilantro, as well as onions, green bell peppers and San Marzano tomatoes, which are a nice complement to the onions and bell peppers. This variety of plum tomato is considered by many chefs to be the best sauce tomato in the world.

Nutritionally, the recipe is jam-packed with vitamins A, C, B6, B1 and folic acid as well as antioxidants that have been linked in laboratory studies to a range of anti-cancer activities.

This is catch worth keeping, I think.

Brazilian-Style Baked Fish
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chile paste (more or less can be used, depending on how spicy you want it)
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ pounds halibut or cod fillets, about ½ inches thick
½ pound medium-size raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons lime juice Lime wedges for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, green peppers and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent. Add chile paste and tomatoes (break with a fork).
Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until thickened. Add parsley and cilantro. Mix lightly to combine.
Season fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Pour tomato mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Arrange fish on sauce. Top with shrimp. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and lime juice. Cover pan with parchment paper then foil. (Aluminum and tomatoes do not mix.)
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Serve fish on a platter with sauce spooned on top. Serve with rice and lime wedges.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 320 calories, 10 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated), 23 grams carbohydrates, 33 grams protein, 3 grams dietary fiber, 560 milligrams sodium.