I was set on having Salad Niçoise, last night, or at any rate, a bastard version involved orrechiette– I mean, it was so damn hot. Then there was this fresh red snapper at the market; I had to buy it, of course I had to buy it. Good price, too.
But when I got home, it was still too hot. And we were both in miserable moods. I didn’t really want to cook. So I thought–have the fish tomorrow night. Because I’ve discovered a sneaky way of keeping it fresh overnight, one that’s perfectly obvious, actually, if you can mix categories and think salt cod. I sprinkle the filets on both sides with coarse salt, cover them, and pop them in the fridge. They’re fresh as they’ll ever be once they’ve left the market that way. Next night (tonight, that is), we’ll have them griddled, then served with lemon and soy, with black rice, corn on the cob, and a sweet tomato/basil salad.
The last few days have been a bit of a push, what with Alex having discovered a lot of footage he went to a great deal of trouble to get went bad; for some reason, some technical glitch, it has to be reshot. And I, of course on the same day, found that the printer for EAP somehow left off a crucial graphic element on one of the book’s covers. Can’t figure out why or how it happened, but, of course, must be resigned to it, since there are now a few thousand odd copies printed like that. So needless to say, we’re both walking around the house, smiling tenderly at each other, and not saying much–what can’t be cured must be endured, as they say. But here’s the thing: it actually helps to have a gentle, good meal when that kind of upheaval rolls through. It actually helped to have that salad last night, with some good rosè. And, dammit, it’ll help to have that fish and everything else tonight. Not to mention how easy it is to fix, which is also helpful on a day where it feels like technical issues are pressing you into the ground so you can’t get up…like you’re in a Cocteau film. The best cure for that, in my opinion, is a simple, delicious dinner, quietly held with a loved one, where both of you tacitly agree not to talk about business. Just the food, the dogs, how lucky you are to be healthy and in love.
I can’t tell you how to do that last, since you’ll have your own healing conversational gambits (and if you don’t, you should be busy developing them as crucial to a modern marriage),but I can tell you how to grill Salted Red Snapper.
About three quarters of a pound of good, fresh snapper filets for two people. Lay them flat in a baking dish and sprinkle both sides with coarse salt. Leave for at least thirty minutes, but overnight is fine, if you need to wait.
When ready to cook, heat up a ridged grill pan on the stove. Gently wash the salt off the filets, pat them dry. Paint them with olive oil (I paint one side, then lay that one down first in the pan, and paint the other side while the fish cooks). No need to salt, obviously.
When the pan sizzles, put the fish in so the filets lie flat. Grill for about three minutes, then turn. There should be nice black griddle marks on the filets. Cook until done to your liking (with us it’s about three minutes more, but we like our fish a bit underdone). Serve with steamed rice (black rice is always nice here), corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes with basil and balsamic vinegar.
You can make a little sauce to go on the fish and the rice by combining equal parts soy sauce and lemon juice. Or, you can just do what I do, and put lemon wedges and a cruet of soy sauce on the table. Make your own sauce there. Why not?
Eat slowly, maybe with a little glass of wine the color of your choice. Speak gently and kindly. Try to stay off sore subjects. And tell your loved one how proud you are of them, because if you’re like me, you forget to do this as often as it crosses your mind.