Chef Eric Ripert, inspired by his frequent trips to Puerto Rico where he grew to love the island culture, celebrates its rich Spanish and African-influenced culinary heritage and bountiful ingredients with this vibrant red snapper recipe. A soffrito and fish fumet form the base of the sauce, which includes tropical accents like coconut milk and lime.

By Food & Wine
Updated March 31, 2015
Sauteed Snapper with Sofrito Coconut Emulsion
Photo courtesy JennAirServes 22 7-ounce filets of red snapper4 tablespoons canola oil ½ small Spanish onion, peeled and sliced1 head of garlic, peeled ¼ bunch cilantro, leaves picked6 ea. Aji Dulce peppers, cleaned and seeded1 tablespoon achiote (annatto seed)½ quart fish fumet (recipe below)1 ear of yellow corn, kernels only4 ounces coconut milk1 cup rice (recipe below)¼ avocado; peeled, pitted, and cut into slivers1 lime cut in halfFine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Put the onion, garlic, cilantro, and Aji Dulce into a small food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped and mixed evenly. Set this mixture aside.

2. In a small sauce pan, heat the 2 Tablespoon of canola oil and the achiote under medium- high heat. Cook the seeds for about 2 minutes, so that the color from the achiote bleeds into the oil. Strain the achiote out and reserve the oil.

3. Reheat the achiote oil in a small sauce pan under medium high heat, and add the onion, garlic, pepper mixture. Sweat this mixture out for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add in the fish fumet, coconut milk, and corn. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender for 30 seconds to incorporate everything together. Strain the sauce through a chinois, pressing some of the pulp through to give thickness. Set aside.

4. Prepare the rice according to the recipe below. This can be made a day in advance, and stored in the fridge until needed.

5. Preheat an oven to 350*F. In a large sauté pan heat 2 Tablespoon of canola oil on high heat. Season the snapper with salt and pepper and pat dry. Carefully place the snapper filets in the pan and begin to sear. When the snapper begins to form a light brown crust place the sauté pan in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and gently flip the snapper and continue to cook in the oven for 1 more minute. Take the pan out of the oven and test the snapper for doneness by inserting a long metal skewer into the center of the fillets for 3 seconds. If the skewer is warm to the touch the snapper is finished. If not, continue to cook until an inserted skewer is warm.

6. To plate, heat reheat the rice and the sauce. Place a bed of rice on each plate, and place the snapper on top. Sauce each plate right before it is served. Garnish the dish with a sliver of avocado. Squeeze lime juice over the top of the dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¾ cups long grain rice
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 ½ cups water

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the rice to coat the grains with the oil. Cover with the water and salt and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and cover. Do not stir the pot after this point. Cook until the water has evaporated completely and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

1 pound fish bones (preferably from halibut or turbot)
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup white wine
½ quart water

1. Soak the fish bones in lightly salted cold water for one hour, changing the water twice. Remove the bones from the water and pat them dry.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bones in a shallow oven-proof pan and roast them in the oven for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the bones from the pan and blot away any blood.

3. Put the bones in a wide pot and add the water. Bring to a boil. Add the shallots and wine, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 1 minute.

4. Strain the fumet through a fine mesh sieve. Store in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Chef Eric Ripert and designer Matthew Patrick Smyth have long been inspired by Puerto Rico. See how their favorite details and memories create an unforgettable dining experience.