After a great day fishing out on the water, the best way to celebrate is to invite some friends over to enjoy the catch of the day. Whether it’s a Pacific halibut, a giant ling cod, or few sand dabs, bottom fish pulled out of the water earlier in the day and prepared fresh that evening is an experience that often surpasses any meal at the finest seafood restaurant in the Northwest. Restaurants just can’t buy seafood that fresh.
While I am on the boat heading back to the docks with a full livewell, I begin to fantasize about how I want to prepare each fish. First idea that comes to mind is a little crudo—thin slices of raw fish seasoned with fresh citrus, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and a drop or two of truffle oil. Tasting fish in its pure, simple form is not only delicious but gives us a greater appreciation for more complex preparations.
When selecting fish for eating raw, avoid the meat around the belly and underside of fish. Wash and sanitize the fish filleting area and rinse the finished filets with cold running water. Avoid eating raw fish if you are pregnant.
To all the fisherman out there, good luck on the water and remember to share your catch with friends on the docks around you or invite them over for a fresh seafood appetizer and a glass of wine. I offer a few select recipes for those who want to go all out with their locally caught white fish.
If really you want to get in on the entire process from water to table, read how to catch these delicious local fish with this month’s Kevin’s Catch
Cajun Style Blackened Ling Cod
After graduating high school, I discovered Cajun Chef Paul Prudomme on a TV show making his famous blackened redfish. Never having tasted redfish, I quickly substituted fresh rockfish and it looked as good as Chef Paul’s and tasted amazing. When blackening fish, you can’t be afraid of cooking with high heat. I use a cast iron skillet on high and get the pan to smoke a little before I add the seasoned filets. This recipe can be used with salmon as well.
Makes 4 Servings
Directions: In a zip-lock bag, add paprika, salt, sugar, black pepper, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme, and oregano. Seal the bag and give it a good shake to combine all the seasonings.
Place a large cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 10 minutes. Things are going to get a little smoky while making this recipe. Turn on your kitchen hood fan to high or open the galley windows and turn off the smoke detector.
Place the chilled butter in a microwave safe dish. Place the butter in the microwave dish until the butter turns to liquid but does not boil, about 1 minute. Pour 2 Tablespoons of clarified butter into four small dishes and set aside in a warm location. Dip each filet in the remaining melted butter, coating each side. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of spice mixture evenly on both sides of the buttered filet.
Place seasoned filets in the heated cast iron skillet, then top each filet with a teaspoon of melted butter. Cook until the underside of the filet looks charred, about 2 minutes. Turn the filets over and pour 1 teaspoon of butter on top of each filet. Cook until the other side is charred, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm dinner plate and serve with a small dish of warm butter for dipping
Seared Halibut Escabeche & Warm Chips
I discovered this seafood dish while in Mexico in the small village of Chacala, north of Puerto Vallarta. Our server at a small restaurant right off the beach suggested a fresh seafood appetizer that his wife had just prepared. Within minutes, an earthen dish surrounded by warm tortilla chips appeared on our beach table. I dipped a chip into the dish filled with small shrimp and delicate white fish smothered in a rich tomato sauce that included soft onions, carrots, and peppers. The delicate seafood, vegetables, and aromatic spices combined with the crunch of the tortilla chip was so good that I ignored my margarita until we had emptied the bowl. This recipe makes excellent use of the trim pieces from fish filets, and a few spot prawns from the trap would be a much-welcomed addition.
Directions: In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Season fish filets with salt and black pepper and arrange in pan so that none of the filets are touching or overlapping. Brown fish in hot oil, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove browned filets from pan, place on a plate, and set aside.
In the same skillet that the fish was cooked in, add onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook while stirring until the carrots are soft, about 6 minutes. Add lime juice, cilantro, chicken stock, salsa, cumin, cinnamon, and jalapeños, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to medium low, cover pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Lay the browned filets over the simmering sauce, cover and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove fish from skillet and place on a serving platter. Top fish with remaining sauce from skillet and allow escabeche to cool to room temperature. As the fish cools, it will absorb the rich flavors of the sauce. Serve with warm tortilla chips and enjoy as a fresh seafood dip.
Crispy Cod BLT with Avocado
Serves 4 Sandwiches
Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚. Use the convection feature if your oven is so equipped. Place sourdough round on cutting board. Using a bread knife or serrated knife, cut though the center of the loaf using a sawing action, leaving the bottom ½ inch of the bread intact. Turn the bread round one-quarter turn and repeat the slicing method while leaving the bottom ½ inch attached. The bread should now be sliced into 4 attached wedges. Repeat the slicing method to create 8 wedges that are connected at the bottom of the sourdough round.
In a small bowl combine: In a large skillet over medium high heat, add vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees, about 8 minutes. Season the fish filets with salt, pepper, and curry equally. In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk and stir. Pour the dry tempura batter onto a plate. Dip the seasoned fish filets into the egg mixture and moisten. Place the moist fish filets into the dry tempura batter and coat both sides. Set aside.
When the oil is hot, add the breaded filets to the hot oil and fry on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gently turn over the browned filet and cook for an additional 2 minutes to brown the other side. Place cooked filets on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.