Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pan-Seared Fish & Boiled Veggie Medley: A creole-cajun hybrid fish dish.

Hello all! It's been a while! How've you been? Hectic as always here. But not too hectic for me to share my most recent creation with you. And by recent, I mean I just ate devoured it about half an hour ago.

This was inspired by an amazing dish I had at the famous Commander's Palace in New Orleans. Now, as you may or may not know, there are two primary "camps" of cooking here in Louisiana: Cajun, and Creole. Creole is typically associated with the city, specifically New Orleans, a more "classic" style of cooking, historically eaten by the upper class. Cajun is more akin to what the average "country" Louisianian might eat. For the math or word play buffs out there:

Cajun : Creole, as Ruth's Chris : your favorite local hole-in-the-wall diner

or even

Boeuf Bourguignon : Chicken Fried Steak

It's ALL good as far as taste goes, it's just stylistically different.

However...hybrids happen. Particularly when you're like me and have lived all over the state, and as an "outsider", have no loyalties to either camp.

So...that's how we have this: Feauxcajun's Fresh Catch Fish & Veggie Melange:

So, here's the breakdown & what's what about this dish:
Creole: classic plating, sauce separate from primary dish, creole mustard sauce
Cajun: "Boiled*" vegetable medley, cajun seasoning, freshly caught bayou Channel Catfish

(* I never experienced a traditional Louisiana seafood boil (you Northerners, think "backyard BBQ" only with a big pot of spicy water & seafood) until I moved into Cajun Country, so "boils" will always be "Cajun" to me.)

Shopping List:
- 1 tbsp Liquid crab boil
- 6 baby carrots, halved
- 1 rib celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, whole
- ½ mirliton (or chayote), cubed
- 6 mushrooms, quartered
- ½ cup fresh corn kernels
- 4 new potatoes, quartered
- 4 fresh fish filets (catfish, drum, redfish, flounder, or bass is recommended)
- Cajun seasoning, to taste (Feauxcajun recommends: Fontenot & A Half--more details later)
- White wine (for deglazing pan)
- 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 tbsp creole mustard
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp minced dried onion
- 1 tsp flour

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, and a medium pasta pot ¾ full of water, setting both to boil. When the saucepan water reaches a boil, add crab boil, stir, and remove from heat, letting cool.

When pasta pot comes to boil, add garlic & potatoes to the water and cook for about 15 minutes (or until potatoes are tender). Take half of the crab boil water & add to a bowl of ice to create an ice bath for the veggies. Remove the potatoes from the water, shock in the ice bath, then move to a colander to drain. Add the rest of the veggies plus ½ of the lemon to the boiling water and let cook until tender but firm (about 15-20 minutes).

Boiling veggies:

While that batch of veggies is cooking, season the fish filets liberally with the Cajun seasoning. This is where I pause to SHAMELESSLY promote a fantastic product made by two of my good friends. Fontenot & A Half is the ONLY cajun seasoning I use in my house anymore--it's less salty than the more commercial brands (read: Tony's or Zatarains) but still has a great flavor and perfect amount of heat. They're currently working on their website, but if you'd like to order, it's $3/can (plus shipping), and until the site's back up, it can be ordered by calling 225.749.4049.

Okay--back to the good stuff.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add fish filets & cook 2-3 minutes on each side. If fish begins to stick to pan, sprinkle a few teaspoons of white wine into the pan to loosen when flipping or removing.

The fish is done when it's flaky white on the inside, and looks like this on the outside:

I can see you drooling. :)

Once fish is cooked, set aside on a plate & cover with aluminum foil to rest. Add chicken broth, mustard, thyme, dried onion, a few splashes of white wine, juice from the other half of the lemon, & vinegar to the sauté pan & stir well. Sprinkle in flour & whisk until thickened (about 2 minutes).


While sauce is cooking, reheat the saucepan of crab boil water over medium-low heat. When veggies are done, shock in the ice bath, drain, then add all veggies back into the remaining crab boil water to reheat (about 1 minute). Drain well, then season with Cajun seasoning to taste. Arrange vegetables on plate, & drizzle mustard sauce over the fish. Serve with a fresh warm roll.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Info
Calories 331.2
Total Fat 16.0 g
Saturated Fat 3.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.9 g
Cholesterol 91.8 mg
Sodium 471.5 mg
Potassium 997.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 17.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
Sugars 2.1 g
Protein 30.6 g
Vitamin A 49.2 %
Vitamin B-12 67.0 %
Vitamin B-6 22.6 %
Vitamin C 53.3 %
Vitamin D 3.3 %
Vitamin E 4.3 %
Calcium 8.1 %
Copper 20.0 %
Folate 9.4 %
Iron 15.1 %
Magnesium 19.0 %
Manganese 18.5 %
Niacin 26.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 16.6 %
Phosphorus 43.6 %
Riboflavin 13.6 %
Selenium 41.2 %
Thiamin 50.3 %
Zinc 13.4 %