Grilled Whole Red Snapper with Grilled Fennel and Ratatouille

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Rick Moonen of Oceana in New York.

Moonen’s grilled whole red snapper makes for a wonderful presentation, and the accompaniments of fresh grilled fennel and ratatouille are perfect complements for a summer meal. The lusty flavors will go well with a full-bodied white or a medium-bodied red wine.

Wine recommendations: Oceana wine director Bernthal recommends Torbreck’s 2000 Marsanne-Viognier-Roussanne blend, a white that he describes as "rich, full-bodied, round and floral, with a touch of minerality, an Australian wine made in the style of a Rhône wine." His other choice is Nicolas Potel’s 1999 Epenottes Pommard premier cru from Burgundy, a Pinot Noir that he believes is redolent of bright cherries, with "a hint of anise. It’s soft, velvety, feminine, medium-bodied and able to stand up to grilled items. It’s not overpowering, by any means."

  • For the snapper:
  • * 1 whole (4-6 pound) red snapper, scaled, gills removed, gutted,rinsed and patted dry
  • * Freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • * 1 teaspoon sliced fresh garlic
  • * 1 tablespoon roughly chopped
  • * Italian parsley
  • * 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • * 1/2 lemon, peel on, sliced in 1/4-inch half-moons
  • * 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • * 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • For the ratatouille:
  • * 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • * 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • * 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • * 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • * 1 small eggplant, peeled, seededand diced
  • * 1 zucchini, peeled, seeded and diced
  • * 1 yellow squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • * 2 tablespoons diced shallot
  • * 2 tablespoons diced garlic
  • * 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • * Salt and pepper to taste
  • * 1 cup seeded, diced plum tomatoes
  • For the grilled fennel:
  • * 1 bulb fennel
  • * 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • * Salt and pepper to taste
  • * 2 tablespoons lemon juice

To marinate the snapper: Using a sharp knife, make three shallow incisions on each side of the snapper. Place the snapper in a stainless-steel pan and season with white pepper. Place garlic, parsley, olive oil, lemon, oregano, white pepper and red pepper flakes into a bowl and mash them together with your hands, combining all the juices. Lightly massage the marinade into the snapper, being careful of the dorsal fin, which can be very sharp. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

To prepare the ratatouille: Heat the oil in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat until the oil ripples. Add the onion, stir to coat with oil and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers and stir; cook briefly, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the eggplant, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme, stir to combine well, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the diced tomato, heat through, and keep warm until ready to serve.

To prepare the fennel: Trim off the tough outer pieces. Slice it lengthwise into “stalks” 1/2-inch thick (so that each piece consists of bulb and stalk). Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the snapper: Rub the grill rack with oil, and preheat the grill, leaving one section with no coals under it. When the coals turn white, the grill is ready. Wipe out the cavity of the snapper with a paper towel (excess oil inside can spill onto the coals and cause flare-ups) and place it on the grill. Grill for 2 minutes, until lightly charred. Turn. (Grasp the snapper between a flat, long-handled spatula underneath and the side of a long-handled fork on top. Do not pierce the fish with the fork.) Grill for 2 minutes, until charred. When both sides are charred, move the snapper to the side of the grill without coals directly below. Cover the grill and let the snapper cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flesh inside the cavity is opaque, not translucent.

Meanwhile, grill the fennel for about 2 1/2 minutes, turn and grill the other side for 2 1/2 minutes, or until the fennel is lightly charred. Remove from the grill.

When the snapper is done, place it on a serving platter and surround with grilled fennel and ratatouille. Serve immediately.

Published on June 24, 2010