|The red snapper fillet simmering on the stove.|
I invited Mary Alice and Rich to dinner because we were going to see a play together, and I at least was broke and not up for another restaurant dinner. We ate outside, on our newly rebuilt terrace. The garden, where my husband Bob has been sweating every afternoon, looked great. The peonies were blooming and the vegetable garden was amazingly free of weeds. The red snapper, as well as the rest of the dinner, was a real hit.
The novice cook could easily reproduce this dish and impress the hell out of his or her guests. The only thing to watch is the cooking time on the fish. Poach means to cook in water, like poached eggs. This time, you poach the fish in the court bouillon. Simmer means boiling gently, with a few bubbles, not dozens. The directions say poach about 15 minutes, so set the timer as soon as you put the fish on the stove and light the burner. On a gas stove, set the dial for the number 4 or between 3 and 4. On an electric stove, start with low heat, and see if things start bubbling. If they don't, turn it up to medium heat. You will know when the fish is done when you can flake a piece off the main bit with a fork.
It helps if you have a wide spatula to get the fish out of the pan.
There is nothing special about the sauce. Other than boiling the eggs, the sauce is not cooked so there is nothing to worry about.
There is one more thing, how much fish to buy. I found that a pound and a quarter was more than enough to feed four people. The two pounds this recipe called for would feed at least eight. So, since snapper is not cheap, cut back accordingly.
Chilled Red Snapper Appetizer
2 pounds red snapper fillets (see narrative.)
4 cups court bouillon (See previous entry.)
4 hard-cooked eggs
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped scallions, including green part
1/3 cup drained capers
2 teaspoons Creole mustard, or to taste. (If unavailable use Dusseldorf mustard and add Tabasco sauce to taste.) (I used French mustard. For some reason Dusseldorf mustard seems to be the go to condiment of "adventurous" cooks of the 50s and 60s. I have actually never seen it in the store.)
1. Simmer the snapper in the court bouillon until fish flakes, about fifteen minutes. Cool the fish, bone and skin. Chill.
2. Mash the yolks of three of the eggs and add the dry mustard, lemon juice and salt.
3. Add the mayonnaise, scallions, capers and Creole mustard. Chop or sieve the whites of three of the eggs and stir in.
4. Arrange the chilled fish on the lettuce leaves and spoon the sauce over. Garnish with remaining egg, cut into slices.
Makes four servings.