Today’s recipe comes with a little help from my friends. We had guests coming who didn’t eat meat. I wanted to cook on the grill, so I took myself to the Paradise Seafood Truck at the Agricenter to pick up something fresh. I had planned on using grouper but Ted, the fish man, suggested amberjack. I’d never cooked it before but he assured me that it would be perfect on the grill. And he suggested that I marinate in in half Italian dressing, half pineapple juice.
I’m not much on bottled dressing but I figured the fish man knows what he’s talking about and tried it. It was perfect with the peach chutney I planned on using. And there is where the second friend comes in. My next-door neighbor, Denise Anderson, had made a big batch of her fresh peach chutney and gave me a generous share. It was absolutely delicious and I knew it would go well with the fish.
Amberjack is a fish that can be found in Florida waters around reefs, rock outcrops or even wrecked boats. It is not on the “bad” list of endangered species, which makes it a good choice besides the mild flavor and nicely firm texture.
The salsa can be tweaked according to your taste. You might want more or less cilantro, ginger or hot sauce. It would also be delicious on grilled pork or chicken, and leftovers work just fine with corn chips for dipping.
I served it with rice pilaf and black beans baked with a can of Rotel and a bit of brown sugar. It made for a delicious summer dinner.
Ted’s Grilled Amberjack with Denise’s Fresh Peach Salsa
4 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into small dice
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into small dice
5 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cider or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
Salt & pepper
3/4 cup Italian dressing
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 lbs. amberjack filet, cut into six servings
Make the salsa: In a glass bowl, combine the peaches, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and ginger.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss with the peach mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Mix together the Italian dressing and pineapple juice. Reserve about ½ cup for basting. Put the rest in a plastic bag with the fish. Give it a shake to make sure all the fish is covered with the marinade and refrigerate for about an hour, turning the bag occasionally.
The fish can be cooked on a hot grill, about 8 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes on the second, or until done through. It can also be cooked under your oven broiler for about the same amount of time, or even on a stove-top grill. Baste with the reserved marinade several times while cooking.
When done, top with the salsa and serve immediately. Serves six, with plenty of leftover salsa. Refrigerate leftover salsa up to several days.
NOTE: Don’t marinate for more than an hour or so. The acid in the marinade will start to “cook” the fish, like ceviche. Good for ceviche. Not good for grilled fish.