At Hogfish Harry’s, the hogfish is naturally the star of the show.

Chef's Table


Homage To Hogfish

For Hogfish Harry’s culinary director, Everett Fromm, the restaurant’s namesake fish serves as a canvas for masterpiece dishes.

Everett Fromm so admires the unsung hogfish that he and his partners changed the name of the former Island Gypsy at Naples’ Park Shore Resort to Hogfish Harry’s when the restaurant reopened after renovations and rebranding in October. “I love hogfish due to their beauty and mild flavor,” Fromm, the restaurant’s culinary director, says. “It can be prepared a lot of different ways.”

The chef got creative while designing a fresh yet light dish to enhance the star of the plate, his beloved hogfish. Looking for a dinner special both rustic and refined, he conjured up a pan-roasted hogfish with melted leeks, jumbo lump crab, blistered tomatoes and charred citrus beurre blanc. Hogfish, often known as hog snapper because their textures are similar, is a member of the wrasse family, which is seen more often in aquariums than kitchens. Despite its less-than-glam name, the hogfish’s popularity has climbed in the past decade or so from a relative unknown to a fish cherished for its delicate flavor. The Florida Keys helped popularize the fish, which prefers a reef habitat and is usually spear-caught. Restaurants can easily source it from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Fromm says.

The chef consistently features the hogfish as a special, but also offers it crispy and fried in a sandwich for lunch and dinner or grilled with pineapple and ginger reduction on the dinner menu. Another multilayered, popular special features grilled hogfish with stone crab and English peas, Lil’ Moo cheese (a spreadable cow’s milk cheese) risotto, Meyer lemon beurre blanc and Thai basil oil. For a pan-roasted hogfish recipe, he precisely selected side dishes to complement the fish. “They are all mild-flavored vegetables; and the blistered tomatoes add texture and acidity to the dish, not overpowering the light flavor of the hogfish,” he says. “The sauce is very light to complement the fish and bring out the natural sweetness of the fillets.” When buying hogfish, the chef advises that it should smell fresh, sweet and like the sea. Fillets should be firm to the touch, not mushy or waterlogged. When preparing, use subtle seasonings to allow its flavor to shine.

Fromm pairs his pan-roasted hogfish with sautéed vegetables and jumbo lump crab meat, and drizzles it with charred citrus beurre blanc to enhance the natural sweetness of the fish.

Hogfish Harry’s Pan-Roasted Hogfish

Serves 2

Prep time: 18 to 22 minutes

For the hogfish: 

  • 2 filets, 4-6 ounces each
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste
  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter

For the leeks, blistered tomatoes and jumbo lump crab:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup whole grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup leeks, white and light green parts, sliced in rounds
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pinot grigio
  • 1/4 cup jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the charred citrus beurre blanc:

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 cup pinot grigio
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste

Prepare the hogfish:

1. Season the fish fillets with the sea salt and white pepper, and melt the butter in a nonstick pan.

2. Place the hogfish in the pan over medium heat, and cook for three minutes on each side until the fillets are
translucent.

3. Using a fish spatula, place the cooked fillets on a paper towel-lined plate to rest.

Prepare leeks, tomatoes and crab:

1. Heat a saute pan. Add the grapeseed oil, then tomatoes, and cook on high heat for 4 to 6 minutes until a dark roasted color occurs.

2. Add the Brussels sprouts flat side down and heat 3 minutes until they are caramelized.

3. Add the leeks, shallot, butter and wine. Cook down for 30 seconds on high heat, allowing the pan sauce to coat the vegetables.

4. Fold in the jumbo lump crab meat. Finish by seasoning with oregano, salt and pepper.

Prepare the charred citrus beurre blanc:

1. Chargrill lemons and orange at medium-high heat, cut side down, without squeezing or applying any pressure, for about 2
minutes.

2. Juice the citrus using a hand-juicer and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, sliced shallot, bay leaf, thyme and juice of chargrilled citrus. Reduce to 1 tablespoon of liquid over medium heat.

4. Add the heavy cream and reduce on medium heat, until thickened, about 5 minutes. 5. Fold the butter into the pan on low heat, one cube at a time.

6. Season with salt and pepper and strain through a fine mesh strainer (chinois) and set to the side.

Plate:

Place the vegetable and crab mixture in the center of the plate and top with the hogfish. Drizzle the beurre blanc on the fish and around the plate. Garnish it with fried leeks or fresh garden herbs such as chervil, thyme, oregano and flat-leaf parsley.

 

Chef Everett Fromm says the fish’s mild flavor makes it a versatile ingredient.

 

Photography by Brian Tietz