I told Martin about this blog and showed him what I usually post on it. He was very impressed with my computer skills and agreed to be a subject of this blog entry.
|Chef Martin Johnson (with me of course)|
Martin was born in Cave Valley Jamaica in the parish of St. Ann. He has been cooking for a living for over 24 years, the last 14 of which has been at the Idle Hours villa where we stay. He is an incredibly modest person with extraordinary talent and I was so happy to spend the afternoon with him on one day cooking and talking about his life and his love of food.
Martin cooks at the Idle Hours villa year round for anywhere from 4 - 10 people at a time. If you had a chance to read the guest book there you would see the dozens of rave reviews of his amazing skills in the kitchen. While his dishes are simple in concept, they are incredibly complex in flavor. He has a preternatural gift for seasoning and I personally can say he has never served me anything short of delicious.
We were lucky enough on the trip this year, through a local connection Paul Williams (who is the BEST tour guide on the island), to procure a 7 1/2 pound red snapper right off the fishing boats at the port in Ocho Rios. This beautiful fish was large enough to feed 4 adults here at the house TWICE! So Martin & I decided to use him (he may have been a she, but I'll just assume it was a male fish :) as the subject of this entry - baked red snapper. There are so many great things about this recipe: it is healthy, quick, easy and requires only a cutting board, knife, grater and baking dish as far as supplies go.
this guy is 7 1/2 pounds!!
I won't bore you with the particulars of filleting and, descaling & deboning a large fish (Martin did it in about 6 min with a small boning knife and a pair of kitchen pliers - then it was my turn to be impressed), so let's just assume you have a large piece (or a few smaller pieces) of thawed and deboned fish on your hands ready to cook. If you are adventurous, click here for some tips for deboning, descaling and cleaning of fresh fish.
served with mashed potatoes and carrots!
- Make sure fish is clean and relatively dry (not dripping wet)
- Butter a 9 X 18 glass baking dish completely.
- Place the fish skin side down into the buttered dish and rub any excess butter onto the fish
- Using the finest end of a grater, grate the garlic and onion directly onto the fish
- Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and add to the top of the fish
- Slice the white portion of the scallions and then finely chop and add to the top of the baking dish (this can also be done in a food processor - just don't turn it into mush - there should still be some definition to the scallion)
- Deseed the tomato by cutting into wedges & remove the seeds with a small spoon.
- Slice and then finely chop the tomato and add to the baking dish on top of the fish
- Add a splash of hot sauce (OPTIONAL)
- Sprinkle fish with ground black pepper over the entire fish (this should be a light covering)
- Sprinkle fish with "All purpose" seasoning
- Lightly sprinkle some salt over the fish
- Using your hands rubs all the ingredients into the fish on both sides, making sure they coat the entire fish equally.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Let fish marinate in the dish covered for about 1 hour.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until completely done.