Atlantic Croaker

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This post is published a little late! Travel back in time a just three weeks please!

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Here he is before his meeting with the oven ……..

I needed inspiration for dinner. It’s August (the coast is teeming with tourists) and it’s warm here in Portugal (high 30’s), so didn’t want to prepare anything too heavy. I have also been lacking in energy but feel guilty for being sloth-like! In an effort to summon some inspiration, I took a drive to the fish markets in Lagos, in the hope that something would catch my eye. And it did!! On the quay, there are several seafood specialists, one of which I ambled into – it was humming with activity – and had, in tanks or on display a colourful array of shrimps, prawns, crabs, percebes (barnacles), crawfish, oysters, clams and lobster. Ummhh, I thought! Fresh lobster would be a real treat. Determined to hold my place in the queue (ha! no-one forms an orderly queue on the continent), feet in flip-flops firmly planted to the wet and slimy fish-gut floor, I was spurred on by the price the lady in front of me (Portuguese) had just paid for three lively lobsters of a very respectable size! I was envisaging the dish – prawns and crab claws, topped with a regal lobster, salad and new potatoes – we would enjoy that very evening on the terrace, enjoying the warm summer air, a glass of Chablis or two to help the prized meats slip down while listening to the melodic sound of crickets and birdsong!

No more inspirational shopping for me . . . . we’ll not in August anyway! Driving away from the port in my oven-like car, I headed straight to the counter of my usual fish supplier in town. Confident in the knowledge that his displayed prices were for everyone, I selected a handsome Atlantic Croaker (Corvina in Portuguese).

 Who Needs Lobster?

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And here he is ready to be feasted upon …………..

Who needs lobster? This fine fish did not disappoint us with his sweet flaky white meat. Stuffed with lemon butter, garlic and fresh dill, then sealed in foil and baked in the oven – he fed three of us very generously. The local new potatoes and asparagus from the north of Portugal, garnished with sea salt and slathered with butter were a mouthwatering accompaniment.

We did eat on the terrace – the air was warm but the wind had developed a sharp edge, the sound of birdsong and the melody of the crickets were drown out by the the children next door shrieking in the pool. And I washed the delicious fish down with a glass of two of local plonk! But life was and is still good when one considers the horrors of war and unrest being endured by too many in our world today!

 

Baked Atlantic Croacker

Prep Time: 15 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 45 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Croaker fish or similar ( based on 2.5 kilos) which would feed 3 or 4 people
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 3 springs of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of fresh dill
  • butter
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. To make the stuffing – mix 2 tablespoons of softened butter with a good squeeze of lemon and the chopped garlic.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the body of the fish (I always ask my fishmonger to prepare the fish for me).
  3. Add half the lemon – sliced, the dill and the rosemary.
  4. Butter a large piece of foil and wrap the fish, making sure that the parcel is air tight.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for  about 30 minutes – ovens vary! After 25 minutes check how the fish is cooking by using a thermometer (55 to 60 degrees centigrade).
  6. Serve with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and a good squeeze of lemon. The meat should just flake away from the bone.

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