Pompano in Parchment Paper


_( Pampano Empapelado) _



Pompano is a particularly flavorful fish; substitute catfish only if pompano is unavailable.

** 2 1/2-2-lb. whole pompano or catfish, cleaned, butterflied, and boned, with head and tail left intact
Juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
4 red bell peppers, stemmed, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
Juice of 2 oranges
2 tbsp. achiote paste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1. Score skin side of fish and put fish into a large deep nonreactive pan or dish in a single layer. Add 8 cups water, half the lemon juice, and 1 tbsp. salt. Soak fi sh for 20 minutes. Drain fish, then rub skin and flesh with remaining lemon juice, salt, and pepper and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, and olives and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Mix orange juice and achiote paste together and add to skillet. Add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in chopped eggs.

3. Lightly grease a large sheet of parchment paper with some of the oil. Open fish like a book, lay it skin side down on paper, and spread a quarter of the pepper mixture over it. Close fish and spoon a quarter of the pepper mixture on top of it. Gather edges of paper together and fold over to make a well-sealed package, then secure with wooden toothpicks. Repeat process with remaining oil, fish, and pepper mixture. Place wrapped fish side by side in a large roasting pan.

4. Bake fish until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer fish to a serving platter and carefully unwrap. Serve with accumulated juices.

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