Maturing Gulf Coast redfish begin their migration out of the Gulf at this time of the year, and often end their journey on a Houston diner's plate. There are various ways to prepare this tasty delicacy, including "on the half shell"—where the fish is served in a "bowl" made of its own hardened skin and scales. The flavor is mild yet pleasingly meaty.
Perhaps you remember back to the late '70s and early '80s when commercial netting was banned because of overfishing. After a few years, redfish managed to recover their population and are once again a popular fish in our region. Redfish is great grilled skin side down for about 15 minutes on a covered grill and be careful with the bones. As for flavors, pretty much anything goes because the flesh is naturally mild, so consider something simple like olive oil with salt and pepper, or another flavor such as lemon and garlic. Even bolder combinations like pesto, Middle Eastern spices or Cajun seasonings will work nicely.
In a Starring Role at: SaltAir Seafood Kitchen
The redfish at SaltAir Seafood Kitchen is served on the half shell. This delightful dish is baked in the oven and flavored with chermoula and Moroccan spices. It is served with a couscous-based tabbouleh with parsley, tomato, mint and red onion. Actually this dish is big enough to serve two, so don't be fooled by the "half shell" description. If you're really into seafood, consider starting your meal with shrimp or crab cocktail from the raw bar. The wine list is impressive and boasts a variety of reasonably priced choices. Located in Upper Kirby, SaltAir is often very busy, so ensure you make a reservation.
Recipe: Grilled Redfish on the Half Shell
Want to cook some redfish at home without having to go out for this flavor experience? Try the following recipe which combines the fish with parsley and lemon, delicate flavors which let the natural beauty of the redfish flavor to shine through. This recipe makes 6 servings and it's equally good served with potatoes, rice or a simple green salad. Looking for something more sumptuous? Try this Red Snapper Excelsior recipe from the late, great Maxim's.
- 6 redfish filets, skin and scales left on but pin bones removed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons each of kosher salt, black pepper and crushed red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 6 lemon wedges, to serve
Prepare a grill for a medium-high heat and grease the grates. Arrange the fish on a baking sheet and grind over the salt, pepper and chile flakes. Now drizzle half the oil over the filets and rub it in a bit with your fingers. Put the fish skin side down on the grill, then cover the grill and cook for about 8 minutes or until the filets are cooked, i.e. no longer glossy in the center and beginning to flake a little. Don't move them as they cook. Use a wide spatula to transfer the fish on to serving plates. Top them with parsley, coarse sea salt and the rest of the oil, along with the lemon wedges.