INDIAN RIVER KITCHEN Less is best
No sauce and more herbs
puts the pow in pompano
BY DANIELLE ROSE
The Indian River Lagoon is a fisherman’s paradise.
It’s the most biodiverse estuary in North America,
with nearly 700 species of fish. If you ask me my
favorite fish to catch or eat, I’ll probably give you
a different answer every time. Right now, it’s
Catching bait is often my favorite part of
fishing, and that’s especially true when it
comes to pompano. They like to eat sand
fleas, which are little crustaceans you find
at the beach. When the tide is right, you
can spot them along the shoreline, burrowing
in the sand between the waves.
Many fishermen use a special rake to
scoop and sift them, but as kids we caught
them just digging around at the water’s
edge, and I still think that way is more fun.
Pompano like clean, fast-moving water. They
congregate on flats along the inlet, scouring the
bottom for small crabs and sand fleas. Once you catch one,
you know you’re in the right spot. They’re a thrill to catch.
They’re peppy and they fight hard for a fish of their size.
They must measure at least 11 inches from the tip of the
nose to the fork of the tail, and the daily limit is six
Pompano en papillote, or pompano in
parchment, is a classic New Orleans dish.
Cooking fish this way is revolutionary for
anyone who wants to cook more fish at
home but doesn’t want the smell of fish
lingering in the kitchen. This method
solves that problem, and it’s so easy. The
traditional recipe calls for smothering
the fish in crab and butter. Pompano is
naturally rich and buttery, but you’d never
know it under that heavy sauce. I go with
minimal ingredients inside the parchment
packets, just some fresh herbs and lemon, to let
the delicate pompano flavor shine.
I used to cut sheets of parchment in heart shapes and crimp >>
This simple take on classic
pompano en papillote ensures
buttery fillets without the fuss