Cuban Whole Baked Fish
whole, such as striped bass, tilapia, flounder, or sole, cleaned and scaled
peeled and thinly sliced, divided
green bell peppers
cored, seeded, and thinly sliced, divided
freshly ground to taste
red pepper flakes
tomato purée (passata)
white wine vinegar
fresh and chopped, for garnish
Rinse the fish well under cold running water and pat dry on both sides as well as inside the cavity.
Make several slits about ⅓ inch deep on both sides of the fish.
Place the fish in a non-reactive shallow dish or platter and pour the lime juice over the fish.
Set aside while you continue with the preparations.
Preheat the oven to 375℉ (190℃).
Rub the bottom of a shallow glass or ceramic dish large enough to hold the fish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Sauté ½ of the onion slices and ½ of the pepper slices in 2 tablespoons olive oil and then place along the bottom of the baking dish.
Tear 2 of the bay leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over the vegetables.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons more of the remaining Spanish olive oil and season with salt, black pepper, to taste, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Place the fish on top of the sliced vegetables.
Using a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, kosher salt and oregano and mash to form a paste.
Spread the garlic paste inside the cavity of the fish and into the slits on top.
Place the remaining bay leaf inside the cavity of the fish.
In the same small bowl that you used to make the garlic paste, combine the tomato purée and vinegar and stir to combine.
Pour this tomato mixture all over the fish.
Top with the remaining onion and pepper slices and drizzle the remaining olive oil and the wine over the top.
Season again with salt and black pepper, cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil, and bake until the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork, 45 to 50 minutes.
Garnish with the parsley and serve hot or warm, with the pan juices drizzled over all.