Poisson Creole or Creole Fish is another version of the Haitian dish Poisson Gros Sel. There are many ways of cooking the fish and most of the spices are always the same. You will find many similarities with Haitian recipes for Creole Fish, but the cooking method might be different.
By process I mean, how the fish is cooked. Many people choose to cook the fish directly on the pan, whereas others will let the fish cook on the spices. Meaning the spices are fried first, and the fish is carefully placed on the spices to cook gently. My friend Natacha thought this process, and it is a winner in my book.
After a fish is well marinated, frying or baking or however else you want to cook it will depend on how you want to preserve the flavors. Fish is so delicate that you want to maintain its shape and looks so the dish could be presentable. By looks, I mean the skin.
The fish will look more appetizing with the skin on. Although Red Snapper is always the preferred choice for Poisson Creole or Creole Fish, any other types of fish with similar characteristic will be okay.
Going back to the cooking method. So cooking a Red Snapper is almost like cooking a delicacy. The fish is meaty, and like any other types of fish, fewer spices is better. That is I might say if the fish is fresh. Freshness counts a lot! One other thing I need to say is to please clean and wash the fish.
A fish is supposed to smell like fish and not “fishy” or “rotten”. Two words most often used to describe fish. Describing a fish as being “Fishy” is unconventional for me because a fish is supposed to smell like fish and the word “fish” is part of Fishy. So weird when you think about it! And the meaning is totally out of this world. The words that we come up with to describe things are fascinating.
Clean your fish! That is all I can say. Remember when you are at a restaurant or even at work and someone ordered or is eating fish and you suddenly get a swift of the fish smell? All you do is make that funny face without hesitation. You can’t help it become it attacks your nostrils immediately.
When I say quick, it is quick and sudden. So, please clean and wash your fish with lemon, lime, or vinegar with cold water. Don’t be shy! If they say that you are slightly cooking the fish with an acidic agent, just act like you don’t care because you want to eat and enjoy your wonderful dish. If you want to learn more about cleaning meat, fish and poultry read my post again. Add post here. I know I never want anyone to make funny faces when eating my fish and I hope you don’t either.
Let’s get cooking now! So the process I told you earlier was to cook the fish on the spices. It is very simple. Fry the garlic, parsley, thyme, onion, and tomato first and carefully place the fish on top. Cook the fish while basting it with the sauce and only turn the fish once so the sauce could fully penetrate the fish. It is that simple. But what is not simple is the size of the pan.
You need a large pan and cooking for many people might be a challenge. So I would suggest that you carefully analyze how you will cook several pieces of fish for a large crowd. If it is for 2 – 4 people, no worries. I am sure you have a large enough pan to accommodate all the pieces. Before showing off your culinary skills, check the size of your pans.
Enjoy Poisson Creole or Creole Fish!
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- 1 red snapper about ½ – 1 pound, whole or cut in half
- 1 lemon or lime
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2-3 crushed garlic cloves depending on size
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 large tomato seeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- Hot pepper to taste or habanero or scotch bonnet hot sauce
- ¾ to 1 cup warm water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Take lime or lemon and cut in 2 halves. With one half clean the fish by rubbing while squeezing the juice inside and out. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and place in a shallow dish. Reserve the juice of the other half of lime or lemon. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme and onion, (chop hot pepper finely if using or add a couple of drops or hot sauce) cover and let marinate for 30 minutes or more.
- Remove spices from fish. Heat the oil in a large pan, add tomato paste and let it cook while stirring until it is almost incorporated with the oil. Add chopped tomato and continue to stir until you notice that the pieces are slightly wilting. Add the spices from the marinade and let cook with the tomato mixture for about 1 -2 minutes. Gently placed the fish on the tomato mixture. Once it starts to cook add the lemon or lime juice around the fish. Gradually add the water while alternately basting the fish with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to baste until all the water has been added. Turn the fish once to cook on the other side – turning it more than once will cause the flesh to break if cooking whole or in pieces. Continue to baste for about 1 – 2 minutes. Cover the fish and let simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes on low heat depending on size and thickness of fish. Uncover and baste until you have noticed that the fish completely cooked. Remove from pan and serve hot.