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Perfect Pompano

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Photography: Doughertyphotos.com

It is no secret why so many people enjoy fishing for pompano. Not only are you guaranteed a day at the beach, but if you’re on the bite then you’ll be going home with much more than a sandy floorboard. Amazingly flavorful and fabulous whole or filleted, grilled and broiled, fresh Florida pompano is as good as it gets.

Most of my time spent at the beach is in the surf, but the benefits of being friends with The Pompano Professor (March/April 2019 issue) are numerous and the inspiration for this recipe. With a diet rich in crustaceans, pompano fillets have a mild flavor and often inspire dishes coupled with sauces comprising white wine, shrimp and crabmeat. However, I prefer not to take away from the star of the show with seafood that ultimately deserves its own dish.

Employing a minimalist approach for most of my cooking, there’s no need for a heavy cream sauce common to many pompano preparations. Naturally, pompano has a moderate amount of fat and oil that gives the succulent flesh a buttery profile, so there’s no need to go overboard.

Ingredients:

For The Salad

  • 8 cups kale, shredded
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • Red pepper, crushed

For The Fish

  • 2-pound pompano, filleted (skin on)
  • 1 tablespoon 0regano
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

A perfect choice for broiling, pompano provide uniformly shaped fillets that cook evenly throughout, unlike a snapper or grouper fillet that has distinct thick and thin sides. With broiler set to HIGH, place seasoned pompano fillets skin side up about five-inches from the heat source. Remove after approximately six minutes, or slightly earlier if the fish begins to brown.

For the salad, place kale and prepared ingredients in a large bowl and mix vigorously. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. When your perfect pompano fillets are ready to serve, plate the salad, dust with grated parmesan and top with warm fish. Enjoy!

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