Grouper Puttanesca

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After living in landlocked Umbria for 6 months, when we are in Florida we love to buy fresh seafood a couple of times a week for dinner. It isn’t that you can’t buy fresh fish in Umbria, but with the coast 2 hours away it isn’t as widely available as it is here in Florida. One of my favorite varieties of fish has to be grouper, black grouper in particular. It is a mild tasting fish that is quite meaty so it holds up to a number of cooking techniques although our usual method of preparation is pan frying or oven roasting. Good substitutions for grouper are wreckfish from North Carolina, barramundi from Australia, or Cobia.

Puttanesca sauce is an Italian classic and is said to have originated when ladies of the evening came home late and needed a quick, tasty meal. All the ingredients for this zesty sauce can be found in the pantry, so it is great sauce to pull together in just a few minutes and can be served on top of pasta, on chicken, or on seafood as I did with my grouper. There are many variations for this sauce, and in Italy some regions include anchovies while others do not. ALthough I am not a big fan of anchovies in general, I find the flavor of this sauce is really enhanced with the addition of anchovies. If you are not a big anchovy fan, try anchovy paste which I find has a milder flavor. Like all simple recipes, you need to use good ingredients for the best results. I prefer salted capers to the ones sold in vinegar, and always use a good quality black olive sold in jars like Kalamata olives, not the tasteless canned ones.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2013

Grouper Puttanesca

Ingredients:

  • 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Chopped Onions
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 (28 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 2 Tablespoons Salted Capers, Rinsed & Dried
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 4 (6 Ounce) Grouper Fillets
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat then add the onions.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another minute until it is fragrant.
  4. Add the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and tomatoes, then bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 8 minutes.
  6. Add the capers, olives and parsley, and cook another minute or two.
  7. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  9. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then add the fish to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Carefully turn the fish and continue to cook until the fish flakes with a fork.
  11. Serve the fish on individual plates with the sauce spooned on top.