LUCY BURDETTE: I've met so many interesting people in Key West this winter, one of them being Chef Norman Van Aken.We had several hours together at a local artisan fair so I had the chance to ask him about his life as a chef and buy some signed copies of his new cookbook, MY KEY WEST KITCHEN.
This was very lucky timing, as I was finishing DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, which stars a chef in a new Key West restaurant. Nothing is more helpful than hearing wonderful details from someone who's been in exactly that position.
I'm not a huge fish eater, but as we do live on an island, it seemed a crime not to try to prepare my favorite, yellowtail snapper. And besides, this gave me the chance to experiment with one of my fictional chef's signature dishes.
1 lb yellowtail snapper filets
1 egg with splash of milk
Panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1/2 Pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 Avocado, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
dash of chili powder or to taste
Prepare the salsa by cubing the pineapple and the avocado. In a small bowl, squeeze the lime and whisk together with the olive oil and chili powder. (As you can see in the picture, I'd planned to include mango, but it didn't feel ripe enough by show time.) Add the dressing to the fruit and mix gently. Set this aside.
Whisk the egg with a splash of milk and put this in a flat bowl. Salt and pepper the fish filets and dunk them in the egg, then in the panko crumbs. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and one of olive oil in a skillet to medium high, and saute the filets until cooked through and golden brown. (Time will depend on how thick the fish is.)
Serve the fish with a wedge of lime, the pineapple salsa, and a tossed green salad.
I suspect Chef Van Aken's version would be even better, but my husband pronounced it delicious!
MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now!
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PS: Mary Mannella was selected as the winner of Liz Mugavero's book giveaway this past Sunday. Mary, please email Liz.Mugavero at gmail dot com to claim your prize!