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The Flavors of the Keys: Key Largo Onion Crusted Yellowtail

Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go, off the Floriiiida Keeeeyyys…

Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipe*The Florida Keys and Key West sponsored this post in partnership with Honest Cooking. As always, all views expressed are completely my own.

Yep, The Beach Boys have been on loop in my head ever since I started thinking about this post. When I was approached to do a post about the Keys, I have to say, I got pretty excited.

As you guys know, I’m a Florida girl originally, and I called the sunny, beachy coast home for close to 20 years before moving out here to Seattle. Suffice it to say, I took A LOT of trips to the Keys. I’ve been offshore charter fishing for Vermillion snapper in Islamorada, I went to Seacamp with school, not once, but twice, on Big Pine Key, and I’ve gone wreck diving off the coast of Key Largo (and to the underwater Jesus statue that is covered in fire coral!—“Statue Christ the Abyss”).

But this post is specifically about Key Largo, and a delicious snapper dish created by chef Bobby Stoky that totally epitomizes the island.

Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipe Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipeBobby’s family moved to Key Largo in the 70s because they loved to fish, and his father became a charter boat captain. He’s been a resident of the district for over 35 years, and knows a thing or two about the area! Today, Chef Bobby runs the kitchens of 8 different legendary restaurants in Miami and The Florida Keys. One of his most popular locations, Sundowners, sits right on the Florida Bay in Key Largo and offers guests a beautiful view of the sunset with a tropical cocktail in hand and a plate of fresh Florida Keys seafood. Chef Bobby even wrote a book that is a great reference for the cuisine of The Florida Keys called, Recipes and Tall Tales from Legendary Restaurants of the Florida Keys.

A great feature of Key Largo for any culinary traveler is its lack of chain restaurants. Chef Bobby proudly admits that most of the restaurants found in the district are owned and operated by locals who are committed to serving great food. Besides one of his own restaurants, Bobby loves to take visitors to Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Café for lunch. Sit at a table on the deck overlooking one of Key Largo’s remaining commercial fishing fleets while dining on fresh Florida Keys Lobster, yellowtail snapper, Key West pink shrimp, and fresh stone crabs. Chef Bobby’s favorite is apparently the lobster croissant BLT—which sounds freakin’ amazing!

Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipe Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipeThe Keys are famous for Key Lime Pie, obviously (Bobby’s favorite pie, besides the one he makes in his restaurants, can be found at Key Largo Fisheries Bayside Café), but also their fresh yellowtail snapper and stone crabs. In his own restaurants, Chef Bobby especially loves to cook yellowtail snapper, right off the fishing boat, encrusted in onion and served with mango salsa. That’s the recipe that I’ll be sharing today, and while mine is not “right off the fishing boat,” it does make me feel a little closer the Keys with every bite! Unfortunately, because you need to go to The Keys to get that amazing Yellowtail snapper, I had to make do with rockfish. Not exactly the same,  but until I can go back to the Keys, it will have to do! The onion crust is in this dish is also great on shrimp, scallops, lobster, or chicken. How brilliant is pulverizing homemade onion rings to coat fish?!



I love this recipe because you can make the onion rings, sales, and key lime butter all ahead of time. Then, when you’re ready to eat, you only have to work about quickly coating and cooking the fish! And holy crap you guys….this is a fantastic recipe. I served mine with some quick-cooking black rice, which made it even prettier to look at!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dream about eating this exact dish prepared by Chef Bobby with actual Key Largo Yellowtail, preferably after a long day of SCUBA diving in the clear waters of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipe

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Onion Crusted Yellowtail

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6-8) ounce yellowtail snapper fillets, pin bones and blood line removed*
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin for onion rings
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1½ cups flour**
  • 1 tablespoon blackening spice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Key Lime Butter (prepare in advance)

  • 6 Key limes, juiced
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup of good quality dry white wine

Mango Salsa (prepare in advance)

  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 fresh Key limes, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep saute pan or fryer, preheat enough vegetable oil to cover onions. Heat oil to approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl place 1 cup flour and blackening spice. Toss sliced onions in flour mixture and lightly shake off any excess flour. Place dusted onion rings into hot oil, and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring onions occasionally, until onions are dark brown. Remove onions from the oil, and place on paper towels to remove any excess oil. Allow onion rings to cool to room temperature.
  2. Then using a kitchen knife or a food processor, chop onion rings until they are about the size of the panko bread crumbs. Place chopped onion rings and panko bread crumbs into a medium bowl, and mix well. Dredge lobster tails through remaining flour, then through the beaten eggs, and then press yellowtail filets into the onion ring and panko bread crumb mixture.
  3. Place a large saute pan on the stove and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Place battered filets into the saute pan and saute over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side, or until onion crust is lightly browned, and fish is white throughout. Top with Key lime butter and mango salsa....and enjoy!

Key Lime Butter (prepare in advance)

  1. Melt butter over medium heat, add dry white wine, and key lime juice.
  2. Remove from heat and let rest at room temperature.

Mango Salsa (prepare in advance)

  1. In a bowl, add diced mango, green peppers, diced tomatoes, red onions, Key lime juice, and salt and pepper, and mix well.

 

* I substituted rockfish for yellowtail.

**I used the leftover flour/blackening mixture from coating the onions to coat the fish, in lieu of an extra 1/2 cup of flour.

Author: Chef Bobby Stoky

Transport your tastebuds to The Keys with the Yellowtail Snapper crusted with fried onions rings, and topped with a lime-butter sauce and mango salsa! #FLKeys | spachethespatula.com #recipe

   

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