broiled pompano with a compound butter

April 22nd, 2009 · 29 Comments

i was going for bluefish because robin raved about it, but there was none to be had. not in nashville. so instead, i came home with pompano. and now, i love this fish. it’s mild and firm – almost snapper-like. and it broils and grills beautifully, maintaining a flakey texture. so, see what happens when you’re open to all the universe has to offer? you get fresh, sustainable fish – and all good things.

and buddhist philosophy meets quantum physics? priceless…

whole foods had the whole fish on ice. and since it comes from the floridian gulf, not too far from here, well, it seemed the thing to do in light of the no bluefish scenario. the pompano, just in that day, was filleted for me on the spot, and i asked for the head and skeleton in a separate bag for a future fish fume.

this dish was found on caviar and codfish – and it drew me in. just a basic super hot broil with a compound butter. so, ok – compound butter. let’s talk about this…

actually, ruhlman gives us the quintessential and (as one has grown to expect from him) most eloquent rundown on compound butter right here. i strongly suggest that you have a look as it gives you insight to the classic options.

i ran with the combination that robin used because it sounded heavenly and i had everything i needed in my kitchen. so i left my butter (i use danish lurpak) out on the counter to soften, and then using a fork mixed in some finely diced parsley and minced garlic, meyer lemon zest, salt and pepper – and basil. the basil from my freezer. can i tell you about this? because i quite liked it.

i get a lot of requests to review products and books and i often refuse because i know the product is a bad match for me. but an email came from daregal asking me to try their frozen herbs and being that i’m not much for gardening or running to the market for one ingredient, as in basil for a compond butter – i was intrigued. so a box was shipped overnight and in it came about 8 containers of both individual frozen herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, oregano) and a few of their blends. when you shake the containers you can hear that everything is loose, not frozen together in a cube like the trader joe’s herbs that you may have seen. you just open the top and shake out what you need. daregal says that all their herbs are processed within 3 hours of being harvested. so they’re picked, washed, chopped, misted lightly with a vegetable oil to prevent sticking and then flash frozen. they are supposed to last for up to 3 years in your freezer. strangely, both a scary and a handy thought.

anyway, i’ve got my 8 containers lined up in a row in the door of my freezer and i’ll be using them here and there, and then i’ll be reporting back. you can count on me. yes you can. but only because I CARE.

but first and foremost, i can assure you that the flavor was all there. obviously this isn’t a substitute for the fresh basil leaves on a caprese sandwich – but it was perfect for this application. bottom line is dried basil is a joke. probably the biggest rip-off in the food world along with dried parsley. but this product actually retains it’s basillyness. (basillyness?)

i set my oven to a high broil and moved the shelf up close to the element. then i heated a cast iron skillet on my stove until it was smoking hot. into that went some of the compound butter and then the well dried fish, skin side down with more butter set on top – and then under the broiler for a few minutes – then out to baste and check for doneness, and then back under just briefly. in the meantime, some salted water had been boiled and green beans thrown in. those took about 4 minutes to decrisp and become tender and everything was ready at the same time.

i’ll be broiling fish a lot more now. i’ve been won over. it was absolutely perfect.

same dish, much less butter. as in, my plate.

still good. not as. oh well.


Tags: educate · fish

29 responses so far ↓

  • 1 maggie (p&c) // Apr 22, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Looks lovely. Frozen herbs come in handy, not sure I’ve ever seen these. So ready for balcony container gardening to start.

  • 2 The Italian Dish // Apr 22, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Perfect dinner. Fish and vegetables. Love pompano. I’ve got those herbs to and boy, are they handy when you don’t have fresh.

  • 3 Donald // Apr 22, 2009 at 8:48 am


    Do report more on those. I am interested. I have an Aerogarden now, so I have some fresh herbage to my avail but having some in the freezer in a pinch or when dried is called for would be nice.

    Love the fish! Quick, easy, and somewhat healthy

  • 4 Irene // Apr 22, 2009 at 8:49 am

    My favorite way to make fish is just like that, only I rub it lightly with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and squeeze out a lemon on top of it and throw in a handful of chopped herbs. The best thing about buying good ingredients is that you get so much more taste with so much less effort!

  • 5 Julia // Apr 22, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I love pompano! And so jealous you have it at your whole foods.

    I’m intrigued by the frozen herbs. I haven’t seen them in the markets… I’ve been freezing basil and mint in ice cube trays, but I could be swayed by the large variety.

  • 6 cofish // Apr 22, 2009 at 9:38 am

    You have nerves of steel, woman, to go so butter-less on your plate. Bravo.

    Glad you liked the broiling. I haven’t seen any pompano around here, but I imagine it’s a great sub for bluefish. Looks similar.

  • 7 codfish // Apr 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

    And I mean to name myself codfish, not cofish, but let’s just pretend I named myself co-fish to celebrate our enjoying the same dish.

  • 8 Melissa // Apr 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Co-fish! I love you both. :)

    And basillyness can totally be a word. Steve and I have our own language and that will totally go in our dictionary.

    More beautiful, wonderful fish (and I love pompano!). I’ve been craving fish lately. Robin and I have that same book, that Fish Without a Doubt, and it has lovely compound butters and sauces in the back, including this one. I need to get on that.

  • 9 Robert // Apr 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm


    Dont believe you can improve on that dish, maybe fight the fish out of the water. Pompano is a favorite here.

    BTW, Mullet is actually a direct exchange for Bluefish. I’ll remember that the gulf is “not too far from here”.

  • 10 Jennifer Hess // Apr 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Now *that’s* how to do fast food. Beautiful.

  • 11 Marc @ NoRecipes // Apr 22, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I totally agree on dried basil and parsley. I never got why people bought it. Love the idea of the frozen stuff though since I usually only need a bit and the fresh kind spoils so quickly.

  • 12 maris // Apr 22, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve never had pompano and never thought to broil most fish. Seafood is the one area I’ve never ventured into and I must admit I’m a little intimidated!

  • 13 krysta // Apr 22, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    mmm… basillyness… not to be confused with ballsy, which is what i had first thought i saw. basillyness=good… ballsy on fish= not so much.

  • 14 SpinachTiger // Apr 23, 2009 at 7:45 am

    You’re a crackup. Fish, seafood, nashville. It’s our challenge isn’t it, and you did it good! I’ll be growing basil and hand delivering it to this summer, because we always have way too much.

  • 15 noble pig // Apr 23, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I have been wanting to try the frozen herbs for some time now. Glad to hear the flavor is there! I’m going to look for these.

  • 16 cookiecrumb // Apr 23, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Pompano is good. Lucky you there was no bluefish.

  • 17 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Apr 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I hate it when the fish I want to use isn’t available at WF. I don’t eat fish, so I really don’t know one kind from another. Husband likes certain types of fish, but not others. I’ve basically learned that if the fish is a thick “steak” he won’t like it, so I should stick with buying flat fish. Yes, I actually think in terms of Flat vs. Thick!

    This is a nice method of cooking it, which I will have to try when I want to be kind to my beloved seafood-loving husband. I love your butter and I think it would be awesome on all sorts of things (I like the lemon zest in there).

    Thanks for the product rec. too. I’ll have to check it out.

  • 18 kristie // Apr 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Claudia, tell me–how does one get corporate folk to send them free things to review? Because I’m a sell-out and would happily rave about my free treats.

    This is the first I’ve heard of a pompano. Thank you.

  • 19 holiday grinch // Apr 23, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Pompano is THE BEST fish ever. I love pompano soooo much and it’s hard to find. I am going to WF tomorrow!!!!
    P.S. Make mine almondine!

  • 20 Lauren // Apr 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    that’s a tasty looking dish. simple, but tasty.

  • 21 katiek @ kitchensidecar // Apr 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Hi there! I have been reading your blog since I stumbled on your mole post a month ago. Really like your blog and your content because it is interesting and you have a point of view.

    Compound butter sounds awesome… actually the word compound butter makes me thing of stage makeup of something you would get a home depot, but the idea of it and the flavor it imparts is awesome.

    The best part of your post was envisioning the crispy side of the pompano skin.


  • 22 zenchef // Apr 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Did i hear.. basillyness. hahaha. Sounds like something i would say. Pompano is great. I had a grilled pompano at Esca recently and it was fabulous. Slap some compound butter on it and i’m in heaven. Nice job!

  • 23 Marie // Apr 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Claudia, I will look for that fish, I never had it!
    I love the compound butter, great idea too.

  • 24 Marco in Italia // Apr 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    This is how I eat on the weeknights! Are you watching me?

  • 25 Peter // Apr 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Actually, the basil’s colour holds up frozen AND even after hitting heat, when it usually goes almost black.

    Sounds like a good product for those winter herb blues.

  • 26 cook eat FRET - linguini with brocolli rabe, toasted garlic and breadcrumbs // Apr 27, 2009 at 4:56 am

    [...] zingerman’s ← broiled pompano with a compound butter [...]

  • 27 becky and the beanstock // Apr 27, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Pompano is a fish I’ve never met — thanks for the heads, er tails up. I have been hearing about the frozen herbs though — I’m glad to know that you find them fitting. My herbs are finally springing forth in the backyard garden, but I’ll keep them in mind when winter comes again.

  • 28 John Jezl // May 5, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Am I the only one that noticed that the root of the word “basillyness” is not Basil, but Silly? :-)

  • 29 Traci @ Soup of The Day // May 7, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Frozen herbs are right up my alley. I’ve been freezing my own herbs for years, but I don’t have the fancy flash-freezing techniques :) Thyme, rosemary and bay leaves fare the best. Parsley, basil and cilantro are so-so if they are completely DRY before you chop them (otherwise they clump).

    LOVE Meyer lemons. I used to have a tree in the back yard, but a couple years back when southern California got a ton of rain one season, it died. Too much water. :( Fresh from the tree they were even more amazing – you could just lightly touch them and the amount of oil that came from the skin was just unreal. And the aroma…. tdf!

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