Friday, February 3, 2012

Roasted Whole Pompano with Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Olives

One of my favorite things to do is cook a whole fish.  So, it came as no surprise that when I saw whole pompano at a local grocery store, I bought one.  It was the first time that I had seen pompano in the grocery store.  Generally, the whole fish tend to be red snapper, rockfish or branzino (sea bass).  I could not pass up the opportunity to cook with this fish.  

Pompano or Florida Pompano can be found in the coastal waters along the eastern United States.  It is a relative of the jack Pompano are fast growing fish and reproduce early in life. These features helped the pompano recover from being overfished (although there are still some concerns with respect to the fishing of pompano along the Atlantic coast of Florida).  So much so that the pompano is now considered a good alternative by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood watch. 

I used a recipe from Bon Appetit, as a guide, although I made a few changes.  I stuffed the fish with fresh thyme and basil, rather than thyme and marjoram.  I also baked the fish in white wine, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier, rather than a combination of white wine and water. 

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 2

1 whole pompano, cleaned
3/4 pounds of russet potatoes, cut into rounds
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 lemon slices, cut in half
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh basil
1/2 cup of white wine
4 small tomatoes, quartered
6 whole Kalamata olives
Salt, to taste
Pepper to taste

1.  Bake the potatoes.  Toss the potato slices in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Lay the slices out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with one tablespoon of the fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  Bake until almost tender, about twelve minutes.

2.  Prepare the pompano.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on the outside and inside of the fish.  Stuff the fish with the sprigs of thyme and basil, as well as the slices of lemon.  Add a tablespoon of oil to a baking dish and spread it.  Add the fish to the baking dish.  Add the white wine and sprinkle the rest of the remaining thyme. 

3.  Roast the fish.  Roast the fish for fifteen minutes.  Scatter the olives and tomatoes around.  Tuck in reserve potatoes.  Continue to roast until the fish is opaque in the minutes, about ten to fifteen minutes. 

4.  Plate the dish. Fillet the fish and place the fillets on each plate, with tomatoes, olives and potatoes. 


As with most fish, a white wine is the best pairing for this Roasted Whole Pompano.  A Viognier or Chenin Blanc (or blend of the two) works very well.  The fruit flavors provide a complement to the earthier flavors of the potatoes, tomatoes and olives in the dish.  Other white wines, such as a Vouvray, Pinot Gris or even an unoaked Chardonnay could also work well this dish. 


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