Many years ago, the Caribbean was our home in the wintertime. We spent three winters sailing in and around the island chains and learning about local cooking. Occasionally, the island spices still pop up in my cooking – this Caribbean Spiced Snapper is an example. Cloves, allspice, nutmeg and many others spices are not just used in baking, but in savory dishes as well. As you might imagine one of my favorite things to do was go to the markets on each island and talk with the local women about what they were selling that day, how they used it and in what combinations. I found the local market is an excellent way to understand the culture of folks and get to know the true feeling of a place. I think this is true even in the states. I fell in love with the brilliant colors of their clothing, the musky smells of overripe fruit, the textures of so many new fruits and vegetables all swirling around each other to make it an experience. It got so that I had my favorite market ladies and would go to them first. Purchasing something new each shopping trip helped me learn about how to cook all of the unusual produce I saw.
Caribbean Spiced Snapper
The kind of fish you use is less important than the process. Any firm grilling fish will take well to this technique. Snapper, tuna and swordfish would be the best.
2 pounds snapper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pineapple juice
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
Mix together all the ingredients but the fish. Rub the mixture liberally on both sides of the fish. Grill the fish until you can see it is cooked a little more than half way up the side, about 5 minutes. Turn carefully and continue cooking on the other side; the second side won’t take as long, about 3 minutes. Serve with Peach Salsa.
This salsa is best when served within 1/2 hours of making it. Make sure to finely dice the peppers and onions because they don’t have time to marinate. As alternatives, serve with grilled salmon, tuna, pork, or chicken.
3 peaches (firm, but ripe), peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 tablespoon each finely diced red and green pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
salt and fresh black pepper to taste: use sparingly
Gently toss all ingredients together; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Buy local fish!