From the very beginning, my relationship with my husband Walter was all about the ocean. In fact, we met because he had just been shipwrecked while treasure diving, and so was in town for a party I happened to be attending. This mariner drew me into his water world and his way of life when I was only 19 years old. He lured me into the sea by gifting me with a pair of fins and a mask and snorkel. I shadowed him as he killed fish with his Hawaiian sling and he taught me how to cook the fish he shot.
His culture and his world were influenced largely by one thing – the ocean and all that went with it. His clothes suited his passion for the water and his vehicle was chosen for its ability to tow his boat. His job was captaining vessels. Our catch was the basis for our meals. And while we were out capturing ocean delicacies, we listened to music inspired by the ocean: Jimmy Buffet, Christopher Cross, Stills and Young, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Seals and Croft, Styx, and so many others.
Things haven’t changed much for us since then. We spend a lot of time on the water with Paul Engle, the president of Bradford Marine in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We had all worked together in the Bahamas long before marriage and children, when all we had to do was fish, dive, work, and have fun. We bonded way back then and it’s been an enduring friendship for these past 30 years.
One weekend this past summer after a full day on the water of music blasting while we tossed fish in the boat, we wandered over to The Fish House Encore in Key Largo for supper. Paul ordered their signature fish dish and I sampled it. It was incredibly delicious and I was able to successfully recreate it once I was home. It’s now my new favorite way to prepare snapper. The recipe is below, but first I want to share with you a special song of the sea that will get you in the mood for this meal you’re going to prepare.
Years ago Walter heard a song that he loved on the radio, but he missed the title and and didn’t hear it again until just recently. It’s our new favorite, partly because it’s about Biscayne Bay, where we have spent so many happy hours with our sons, and partly because we love Stills and Young. It’s called “Midnight on the Bay.” We think you will love these two new favorites of ours – the recipe and the song – as much as we do.
Pan Sautéed Fish (Inspired by a dish from The Fish House Encore)
4 fish fillets (I prefer snapper for this recipe)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs blended with fork
4-6 Tbsp real butter (salted or unsalted)
Two large lemons
1/4 cup sherry
Sea Salt (optional)
Parsley garnish (optional)
Zest the lemons and set the zest aside. Slice lemons in half. Preheat coconut oil or real butter (3-4 Tbsp) in your skillet. Dip fillets in flour, dusting the surface lightly on both sides. Dip the fillets one by one in the egg wash, coating completely. Set your fillets in the skillet, sautéing on both sides until lightly browned and just cooked through. Set aside and keep warm. Turn down the heat on your stove and wipe out your skillet. Heat the remaining butter in the skillet until it is just melted. Squeeze in the juice from your two lemons, removing any seeds, and add the sherry. Heat well but take care not to burn the butter. You will want a nice amount of this sauce, as it is what makes the dish, so if you need to add butter or lemon, do so. Taste and add salt if you you prefer. Pour the lemon sauce over the fish, and around it on your platter. Top with zest and fresh chopped parsley (if you like) and serve immediately.
Note: I’ve also made this without the sherry, and it is still very good. It’s the lemon that makes this dish.