Snoek – or if you prefer to call it by its scientific name, Thyrsites atun – screams Cape Town to me. It’s just so intrinsically part of our heritage. If you have never seen what a Snoek looks like, it is an elongated, silvery fish. The snoek is a medium-sized fish that I’m told reaches a maximum length of 2m, corresponding to a mass of 9 kg. In South Africa, adult fish prey mainly on sardine, anchovy and mantis shrimps. I love the taste and texture of Snoek.
A lot of my friends are very prissy about the bones, but they don’t scare me at all. They are long and very easy to remove. Snoek traditionally is cooked on the braai, but not everyone has the facility to braai, so the easy way to enjoy this delicious fish is to just bake it in the oven. Traditionally it is cooked with apricot jam; the tasty, rich flesh loves a little sweetness.
Snoek is such a part of our Cape Heritage that there is a Snoek & Patat Fees to celebrate this wonderful fish. There are so many ways to eat it: fried, braaied, baked; the leftovers – if there are ever any – make wonderful fish cakes. I love it lightly floured and pan-fried and served with a delicious lemon, dill and caper butter sauce.
Snoek is heart smart and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids – just another reason why we should eat it.
Oven Baked Snoek topped with Herbed Sweet Chilli Butter
Ingredients for the fish:
- 1 x whole Breco Braai Snoek
- 1 ripe lemon
- Fennel fronds (optional)
Ingredients for the sweet chilli herb butter:
- 120g soft butter
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
- 1/3 of a cup chopped fresh dill
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup Wellingtons Sweet Chili Sauce
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
Defrost the snoek.
Place fennel fronds onto an oven tray and top with the Snoek, squeeze over the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper.
Mix together the ingredients for the butter and dot half over the butter onto the fish.
Bake the fish for approximately 25-30 minutes or until cooked.
Remove from the oven and dot with the remaining butter and brush with a little more sweet chilli sauce and serve.
Tip: If you are cooking the Snoek over the coals season and brush with the sweet chilli butter, reserving some to dot onto the fish at the end of the cooking, just before you serve it.
© Jenny Morris 2014