Red Snapper with Avocado, Orange & Tomato Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette

© 2012

I like Red Snapper. It’s indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico so it’s readily available fresh in Texas. When I was younger and worked in the Oil Patch, when we got off for the day we would go to the Platform base and fish for snapper (actually we fished for anything but caught a lot of red snapper). The snapper would feed at the rigs. It was amazing. They ran on a cycle that was so well timed, you really could set your watch as to when they would be at the rig. I would generally catch 10 – 12 snapper weighing 2 – 4 lbs @ in an hour, filet them, wrap them in foil and freeze them. When I would go home, I would take anywhere from 20 to 40 lbs of red snapper filets with me and have a fish fry on the weekend. It was a blast.

Red Snapper has a great, firm texture that flakes with a fork. It has a sweet, nutty flavor that goes very well with everything from spicy chiles to subtle herbs. Red Snapper is also excellent for grilling but I would recommend you either grill it whole or use a grilling basket as it will fall apart on you on the grill otherwise. Be careful not to overcook the red snapper on a grill as it does best with a low direct heat. In many parts of the world, red snapper is grilled on a wet banana leaf. This provides you the hot grill but low direct heat.

This recipe is a quick weeknight meal. You get the fabulous texture and sweet nuttiness of the red snapper with the coolness and citrus of the salad and the savory tang of the warm mustard vinaigrette. It’s a beautiful dish and one I hope you try. If you want a little heat with it a finely minced serrano chile will do the trick.


  • 1⁄2 cup cake flour*
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp toasted, ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp toasted, ground cumin seed
  • 4 red snapper filets, 6 oz @
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 large navel oranges, supremed
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons grainy or coarse-ground mustard
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. With a fork, blend the flour, salt, coriander, cumin and pepper on a serving plate.

Pat the filets dry with paper towels; dredge them in the flour mixture, coating evenly but shaking off the excess.

Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, then slide the filets into the pan, skin side down. To avoid grease splatter on yourself, slide the fish into the skillet away from yourself. Shake the pan several times to make sure they haven’t stuck. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the thick, opaque layers can be easily pulled apart with a fork, i.e. it’s fluffy, roughly 6 – 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, orange supremes, avocado, and rosemary in a medium bowl. Divide among four serving plates in mounds.

When the filets are done, transfer them to the plates, setting them atop the avocado salad.

Set the skillet back over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil vinegar, mustard, and salt and whisk to emulsify the oil, mustard and vinegar and scrape up any browned bits (sucs) in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer and cook until the vinaigrette is shiny, roughly 1 – 2 minutes. Spoon mustard vinaigrette over the filets. Serve & enjoy!

NOTES: *all-purpose flour will work but cake flour has less gluten and makes a nicer, thinner crust.

5 thoughts on “Red Snapper with Avocado, Orange & Tomato Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette”

    1. I don’t believe Red Snapper is found in the Pacific. From what I have read, What is commonly referred to as Red Snapper is Lutjanus Campechanus. It is found most commonly in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast. It is also found, much less commonly, northward as far as Massachusetts. The Pacific Coast Red Snapper is Lutjanus Peru. It is found along the Pacific coast of the southern part of Baja California, within the Gulf of California, along the west coast of mainland Mexico and Central America. Some believe it may be found as far south as Peru. As I understand it, the Pacific Red Snapper is, in fact, Yelloweye Rockfish that is a Scorpaenidae, with orange-yellow colouring washed with pink on the back and sides with paler undersides.Because of the demand for Red Snapper, often other fish are substituted. Now with all of that said, I have absolutely no clue what wold be the difference in taste. I would find a reasonably priced firm white fish and try the recipe. Last time I was at the market they were selling Red Snapper for $17/lb. I wanted to cry. 😦

      1. Thanks for all the info. The prices for good fish in Southern California is also very high. Got to remember you get what you pay for.

      2. Sadly, you are correct. I’m still stuck in the early 80s when Red Snapper was affordable. A little place in San Antonio called Sea Island used to broil a whole Red Snapper. It was my favorite dish and favorite plea to go for dinner in San Antonio for many years. Now, you only get a filet. 😥

Food for thoughts

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