Pompano, familiar quarry of surf fishermen and anglers scouring the grass flats and passes or inlets of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic coasts, provides unmatched quality, delicacy and flavor on the table. Larger specimens are preferred for this simple preparation, but it also works well with smaller fish, which may be served whole.
- 2 pompano, as big as you can catch, scaled and gutted
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, preferably Sungold
- 1 red sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1⁄2 cup green olives, sliced
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a baking or roasting pan with oil in the oven.
2. Season fish with salt and pepper and let sit for 1 hour; massage entire fish with olive oil.
3. Lay fish on the hot baking pan, and cover with half the lemon juice and half the butter. Tuck thyme and bay leaves into the body cavity; scatter tomatoes, olives and peppers around the fish.
4. Cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, flip fish, top with remaining lemon juice and butter, and cook for 10 or 15 minutes more until done, and tomatoes and vegetables are blistered and soft.
5. Once cooked: With large pompano, separate fillets from the skeleton, and lay them on a plate. For smaller fish, plate whole. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Pour remaining butter, lemon cooking juices and vegetables over the fillets.
Serve with your choice of rice preparation.