For as long as I can remember, my dad took me for our favorite meals at the restaurants of Aurelia Esposito. She was an amazing restauranteur, and was passionate about her recipes and entertaining those who came to dine with her.
It was not unusual for her to take your order at the table and spend a few minutes catching up with you, go to the kitchen area to get things going, and then come back with an acoustic guitar over her shoulder and sing the Italian classics at table-side.
I do not use quite as much water or butter as her original recipe calls for, but everything else is much the same:
- 3 pounds fresh grouper, black grouper, or other hearty fish (such as Covina)
- 1 cup water (her recipe calls for 2 cups)
- 1/2 stick of butter (her recipe calls for 1 whole stick of butter)
- 1 cup white wine (up to 1.5 cups)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (reserve 1 Tbsp for final garnish)
- 1 tsp. each of salt & ground pepper (more or less, to taste)
- 2 lemons (cut into quarters)
Prepare grouper into 1/2 pound filet portions. In a large covered fry pan or skillet, place the water, wine, butter, chopped garlic, 2 Tbsp. parsley, salt & pepper, and the grouper. Cover and bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets. The grouper should be firm to the touch, and then immediately removed from the heat. Do not over-cook the fish.
Carefully remove the fish to a platter for serving, using a slotted spatula to leave liquids behind. Raise the heat under the skillet to high, and allow the sauce to boil vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes, to reduce the liquid to desired thickness.
BE MINDFUL of the amount of salt in the recipe before the reduction process, which intensifies salt as it reduces liquid.
Squeeze juice from 1 lemon over the fish just before serving, and distribute the hot reduced pan juices over the fish. Serve immediately with remaining quarters from the 2nd lemon on the platter as a garnish.
OPTIONAL: in a small skillet, fry some capers in olive oil, and spoon the capers (and oil) over the fish for a finishing variation.
I like to serve on a large platter, along with spears of crisp-tender broccoli in garlic sauce (see separate recipe) placed in between the filets of fish.
Make your presentation beautiful!