Red snapper can be bland. It doesn’t have much flavor, even when you pile on the herbs and spices. This recipe goes over the top with a creamy sauce based on classic shrimp scampi. It has all of the lemony garlic flavor you love in scampi and really makes whitefish extra-special. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. This goes together fast!
Red snapper is available fresh in most seafood markets. However, if you cannot find it fresh, check the freezer case in chain grocery stores where you should find it frozen in individual packets. You may also substitute any meaty, firm whitefish fillets, such as cod, haddock, bass, grouper, and the like. You’ll want fillets that are at least 1/2-inch thick.
If you cannot find raw shrimp, no worries. Check out my Notes below.
Lastly, you can skip the fish and just make the shrimp scampi sauce. It’s delicious over pasta or toast points.
Scampi Red Snapper Recipe
2 red snapper fillets (about 6 ounces each fillet), thawed, if frozen
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
2 Tablespoons unseasoned panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or homemade
4 Tablespoons butter, divided use
1/4 cup fine-minced sweet onion
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or other seafood seasoning blend)
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (not the canned stuff)
1/4 pound raw small salad shrimp (see Notes), shells removed, thawed, patted dry
Chopped parsley or chives, plus additional lemon for garnish, optional
Smear mayonnaise on both sides of the red snapper fillets. Season on one side with salt, lemon pepper, dill weed, onion powder, and paprika. Sprinkle with panko.
Place a heavy, deep, hard-anodized skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the red snapper, seasoned side down, and sear until golden brown. Flip the fish and quickly sear the bottom. Remove to a platter, seasoned side up, and reserve. (More cooking comes later, so don’t overcook.)
To the same skillet over low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the minced onion. Gently saute until the onion softens and turns translucent, but do not brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Carefully pour in the white wine and the lemon juice. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add flour and Old Bay seasoning, and then stir for 1 minute to cook out the rawness.
Stir in the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. When sauce begins to thicken, add shrimp and saute just until the shrimp begins to turn opaque and pink, but is not all the way cooked. Taste sauce and add salt, if needed.
Push the shrimp to the sides of the pan, and return the fish to the pan, seasoned side up. Cook an additional minute or two until the bottom side of the fish is cooked. (Timing will depend upon the thickness of the fish fillets.)
Serve the red snapper with the shrimp and sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives and lemon wedges. Garlic Lemon Rice or Orzo Rice Pilaf and a side salad are the perfect accompaniments.
Yield: 4 servings
• You may substitute pre-cooked baby salad shrimp or small shrimp, both of which are readily available in the freezer section of most markets. If you use pre-cooked, make sure they are thawed, drained, and patted dry. Add the shrimp at the same point as stated above but don’t bother heating through. Simply immediately return the snapper to the pan and proceed. The residual heat will be plenty enough. Overcooked shrimp will become tough and rubbery.
• You may substitute softened butter for the mayonnaise, but I hope you will try the mayo. It makes a great crust on the fish.