Sunday, December 20, 2009
It turned out we had some Cajun red beans in the freezer. They do take a while to make, so whenever I make them, I make an extra big batch and freeze some. They're as good after being frozen for a few months as the day they were made. On top of some steamed and lightly buttered long-grain white rice, they're soul-satisfying and delicious. Here's the recipe.
Although redfish and catfish are the usual varieties of fish pan blackened in Cajun country, haddock from the cold waters of the North Atlantic is at least as delicious and is what's beautifully fresh and almost always available here in Maine--so that's what I use in my recipe. If fresh haddock isn't available, use whatever fresh and mild white-fleshed fish fillets you can find--fresh is the key word here. Farm raised fresh catfish is now readily available throughout North America and its mild flavor and good texture go well with pan-blackened flavors. In any case, here's my recipe for pan blackened haddock. Most pan blackened fish recipes require an outdoor-vented commercial-quality exhaust fan over the stove to clear the prodigious amounts of smoke they create. This recipe doesn't and can be cooked in just about any kitchen.
You'll notice I suggest frying the fish in clarified butter. If you haven't clarified butter before, it's a great (and simple) skill to add to your cooking repertoire. Clarified butter has a significantly higher smoking point than "regular" butter which makes it ideal for high-temperature frying in recipes where you want the flavor only butter can provide. Here's how to clarify butter.
Try both the blackened fish, and the rice and beans sometime. If you don't have the time (or the inclination) to make the rice and beans together with the fish, a baguette with some butter--and a simple green salad round out the blackened fish very nicely and easily.
Don't forget the wine. Something cold, tart, and white. An American, Chilean, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect.
Update 12/24/09: For my Cajun Crab Cake recipe--which also utilizes clarified butter--click here.