This dish of baked pompano, shredded red cabbage, potato wedges, garlic and cilantro is yet another version of a baked fish and vegetables dish that an Italian innkeeper cooked in an episode of Avventura on the Discovery Travel & Living Channel. I have two previous versions, both using fish fillets (recipes here and here). This time, I used a whole pompano.
Despite the convenience of fish fillets, they cannot compare to the flavors of whole fish. The flavor is in the bones and the head, really. So, a lot of the flavor is lost during filleting. I must admit though that using fillets means less garbage that rots but where fresh whole fish is available, frozen fish fillets don’t seem so attractive.
Red cabbage, available in better wet markets and supermarkets, is more strongly-flavored than the green variety. The texture is the same although, uncut, red cabbage is more firmly packed. You can use green cabbage, of course, to cook this dish. I had red in the fridge and I thought it would make a rather colorless dish a lot brighter and more attractive.
1 whole pompano, about 750 grams in weight
half a head of garlic
2 large potatoes
a bunch of wansuy (cilantro)
juice of one lemon
about half a cup of olive oil
Cooking procedure :
Pompano has very fine scales. Most fish mongers will not remove them to prevent the skin from tearing. When I get home, I use a small serrated knife to scrape off the fine scales. Score the fish on both sides by making a diagonal incision, about 1/4-inch deep, along the back. Arrange at the center of a large baking dish.
Shred the cabbage into 1/4-inch wide strips and arrange around the fish.
Peel the potatoes, cut into wedges and distribute as evenly as you can on top of the red cabbage.
Peel and finely mince the garlic. Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the fish and vegetables. Top with the finely sliced wansuy (cilantro).
Pour the lemon juice over the fish and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil, making sure that both fish and vegetables get their fair share.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Bake in a preheated 170oC oven for about 30 minutes.
Be very careful when you peel off the foil after the baking dish comes out of the oven. The steam will gush out and you might burn your fingers.