I started today’s dish with a pretty solid plan, and then it turned into something not at all as intended, despite the plan. Better though, says I.
Inspired by the same source that spawned the delicious Shandy Dandy (dandy Shandy? I can never remember…), the plantain-crusted chicken finger with a green seasoning turned into a plantain-crusted red snapper with roasted tomatillo salsa.
Loosely-inspired, more like.
Despite that fact that I’ve sort of accidentally shunned plantains through my Caribbean tastes, they are quite prevalent over in those parts, as well as in Central and Latin America and Africa, largely due to their versatility. You can bake ‘em, broil ‘em, fry ‘em, sauté ‘em… you get the picture. According to Wikipedia, they’re a big deal, and the tenth most important staple that feeds the world.
And today, they serve as the breadcrumbs for my gorgeous red snapper.
Though my world travels are extensive, I’ve yet to explore the Caribbean. While at this point it’s all hearsay, I have it on good authority from my more tropic-minded friends that red snapper is a big thing down in those crystal clear Caribbean waters. AND it just happened to be on sale this week at the market. So, obviously meant to be on my plate. Coated in plantains. And topped with salsa.
The salsa came about because I had too many tomatillos from my CSA these past few weeks and they needed to be eaten. There is a more traditional green sauce that accompanies a lot of Caribbean cuisines, so stayed tuned for that later. Until then, a little bit of Mexican overlap for dinner. Plus, it’s still green, so, like I said before…still loosely-inspired.
Prep for this is pretty straight-forward. Flour, eggs and crushed plantain chips for the coating. Let’s get a little messy.
As a youngin, one of the tasks that often fell to us as we helped mom with dinner was breading things: pork chops, chicken fingers because most kids** like to get their hands messy and it was the perfect way to do so, and to teach us that cooking is fun. So, call in your youngins!
**I did NOT like getting my hands messy.
After the breading, shallow frying in just a wee bit of oil- no deep fryer required. Top with some salsa and viola!
Perfect for a salad or, as I’ve done here, tacos. Because yo, tacos! Tacos not your thing? Do as you like. You’re a grown-up.
- 20 tomatillos, peeled, washed and quartered
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 TB Mexican oregano
- 1/2 TB crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb red snapper, cleaned and fillets
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups salted plantain chips, thoroughly crushed (food processor works well)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp black pepper
- oil for frying
- Preheat the oven to 350F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, add all the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, oil and spices and coat thoroughly. Bake approximately 1 hour or until everything has roasted to softness. Set aside to cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, add all of the above to a food processor along with the cilantro, and process until smooth.
- Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs and Tabasco together. Place the plantain chips in a third shallow dish. Working with 1 filet at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess then coat with the egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of the fillet with plantains, pressing gently so that the crumbs adhere. Place on a prepared wire rack.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or cast iron skillet. Cook the fish in batches until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side, until the fish easily flakes.
- Repeat with remaining fillets, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Drain on paper towels and serve with the salsa.
- Can easily substitute chicken tenders for fish.
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