A vibrant and spicy tomato-based sauce complements firm-fleshed fish with rich flavors like grouper.

Canned tomatoes, spans a range from watery and bland to rich and luscious. The best ones come from Italy’s Samo Valley, and they are distinctly (and legally) labeled San Marzano. Open a can, take a whiff and you’ll know why they’re favored, year-round, over fresh tomatoes in many cooked Italian recipes.

Sugo all’amatriciana is a staple of Italian cooking. A combination of tomatoes, basil, garlic and cured pork, it’s an easy dish to prepare and can be served over pasta or, in the case of this recipe, as a sauce for your favorite firm white fish.

Grouper All’Amatriciana

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, whole and peeled
  • 4 ounces cured pork (pancetta), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 six-ounce portions grouper (or other firm-fleshed fish)
  • Peanut oil
  • Zatarain’s “Wonderful” seafood breading mix

Directions

While you’re crisping the chopped pork in the olive oil in a saucepan, drain the tomatoes in a wire-mesh strainer while crushing them with a fork. When the bacon’s cooked, add the tomatoes, garlic, pepper and stir. Cook about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care not to dry out the sauce. If it gets too dry, a shot of good red wine will help thin it out. Finally, add the fresh basil to the sauce.

A few minutes before your meal, lightly coat the fish with the breading mix and sauté in a half-inch of hot peanut oil. The Zatarain’s Wonderful mix will allow you to quickly crisp the fish while retaining texture and flavor. Amatriciana sauce can be prepared in advance and re-heated as needed. FS

First Published Florida Sportsman October 2017

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