I like my fish like I like my soul. Blackened, fried in oil, and eaten in a corn tortilla

In other words I have a very tasty soul :).  It is my goal in 2017 to do a great many things.  Concentrate on working out more diligently, starting school in the fall,  getting pregnant so I can send my ill-begotten spawn out into an unsuspecting world to cause chaos and carnage wherever they go, aaaaaaand to also be more pro-active in maintaining and updating my blog. Much like New Years resolutions, I’m pretty sure that I will fail at some point.  BUT, I will do my best.

I recently made a blog post about how to go about creating your own corn tortillas to impress and dazzle your family and guests at dinner on Taco Tuesday but I didn’t provide you with a tasty filler. Primarily because I ran out of space on my cell phone….I mean my photographer was not present to capture the wonderful spontaneous footage that comes from me cooking.  Yeah totally not planned..at all.  But I was craving tacos a lot last week so it provided me with ample opportunity to recreate Monday’s dinner of blackened tilapia tacos.  If you aren’t in the mood for tacos you can of course use this with any number of things.  Wild rice with a veggie side,  potatoes with a salad, the body of your slain enemies with a lovely frisee salad.  Mmmmm slain enemies and salad.  You’re only pretty limited to either what you have in your pantry, or if you’re willing to commit a felony of cannibalism, which according to Google (yes I actually googled it) it is not.  Like seriously, it’s not

“Cannibalism is the nonconsensual consumption of another human’s body matter. In the United States, there are no laws against cannibalism per se, but the act of cannibalism would probably violate laws against murder and against desecration of corpses” Cornell University of Law

Yeah that’s not a slightly grey area now is it *blinks*

So since we’ve established that it’s okay to eat your enemies you just might not want to we will get into the meat of this recipe which is the fish.  You aren’t limited to what type of fish to use.  Tilapia, salmon, trout, catfish it will more than likely all work.  I say “more then likely” only because I’ve not cooked with every fish known to man so be adventurous!  The ingredients for the rub are more then likely already in your pantry as well so the only real expense will be the fish, or pork, or chicken, or beef (you can use this on anything..seriously..even the body of your slain enemies..its DELICIOUS!).

If you don’t know what “blackened” is I’ll give you a brief history of the cooking technique.  The name “blackening” is actually a misnomer (look at me with my fancy big city words!), you aren’t actually burning your food.  Blackening is a cooking technique made famous by New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme by which meat or fish is cooked in a cast-iron skillet that’s been heated until almost red-hot.img_20170127_174828-copy Prudhomme’s original specialty was blackened redfish. The food is customarily rubbed with a Cajun spice mixture before being cooked. The extra-hot skillet combined with the seasoning rub gives food an extra-crispy crust. It now can be applied to a myriad (ooooooh fancy again!) of different proteins.

All you will need are the following ingredients and you can make as much or as little as you want.  I do a triple batch because I like to have a lot on hand due to me using it in a lot of different applications

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar (can be either light or dark)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt variety)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

In a mortar bowl (or magic bullet, food processor, grinder) combine all your ingredients and mix for about a minute until the oregano has been broken down and blended.  Taste and adjust to your own liking.  This is not written in gospel but just a guideline so please modify if you want and tweak it. Swap out the salt and used smoke salt or a flavored sea salt if you have it.  Change it up.  BE A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE!!!.

img_20170127_175323-copyNow depending on whatever protein you use will determine if you need to add an oil to the surface.  Since we are doing fish in this post you wont need any additional oil.  Just gently blot off any moisture off of both sides and sprinkle evenly on both sides covering completely.  If using this from a bulk batch, pour some rub into a separate bowl to avoid any potential cross contamination.  To many times have I not paid attention and put hands that have touched raw food back into a big batch of rub only to instantly go “GOD DAMMIT!!!” and grumble that I have to throw it all away or figure out how to use it on every single piece of raw meat in my house and cook it in that instance.  When it doubt, pour some out..

img_20170127_175354-copy
Sprinkle Sprinkle little fish. You will be a taco dish.

In a skillet/frying pan/grill heat up on medium heat until hot, if using a cast iron skillet which I prefer, heat that baby up on high until it is dick blistering hot before adding your oil (2 tablespoons).  When you start to see little wisps of smoke add your fish laying it down away from to avoid splattering and let it cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes depending on thickness of size. Try to only place at max 3 pieces of fish as to not overcrowd the pan and cause splotchy blackening.  Carefully flip over with a wide-set img_20170127_180020-copyspatula and cook until firm to touch and flaky (this seems like such an oxymoron. Firm to touch but you can flake it off easily..Firm but fragile..Fuck it just say cooked dammit..Why you gotta be so pretentious cooking instructions?!).  Transfer your fish to a plate while you finish cooking the remaining portions and then enjoy the fish of your labor.

It’s a relatively quick process with fish and would of course take longer for chicken, pork & beef but the results are amazing and before long you’ll be sprinkling the rub on everything and I mean everything.  I enjoy it sprinkled on my popcorn!  And as we’ve  already identified it’s great on the mangled limbs of your slain enemies but that could zombiesprobably be because you’re a zombie.

Hope you enjoy and leave a comment or feedback.  Let a kid know that someone is actually reading this and it’s not just me being quirky to myself!

 

 

 

Inside the pages of the Gastronomicon-Warm Mushroom Salad

With spring upon us and the ebbing cold weather our grocery stores are seeing the arrivals of the first spring harvest of vegetables.  This is an opportune time to indulge in a post winter fat gaining cleanse and clean out our stomachs, our arteries and our bowels.  I myself am extremely excited at the notion that this year is my first year at attempting urban farming.  Living in the heart of the St Louis it is difficult to locate a space large enough to plant a small vegetable garden.  I am lucky enough to live next to my parents who have a back yard that is just perfect for a small garden bed.  Plus with the abundant excess of milk crates found at local gas stations, grocery stores and flea markets I also am able to do small scale container planting on my own back porch.

It seems that every spring I have a tendency to shake off the shackles of MEAT!!! and don the garbs of vegetarianism.  I dont know exactly what it is about spring that just makes me want to enjoy a plate of greens over a burger.  More then likely its the impending onset of summer and having  lived in a non AC apartment for the majority of my adult life the idea of a hot kitchen is not appealing.  This year will be no different even though I now have central air and an apartment that keeps cool I still wont want to spend any extended amounts of time in the kitchen.  So to the veggies I go with the gusto and reverberant joy of a squirrel to horde away for the next six to seven months the bounty of my garden and the local farmers markets.

One of the things about eating vegetarian is having enough of a variety to ensure that you are maintaining your nutritional needs each day.  That means vitamins, proteins and minerals OH MY!!!!  One thing I struggled with initially during my 3 year stint as a vegetarian following my bariatric surgery was protein.  I never seemed to get enough protein.  I also wasn’t as adventurous with my cooking so my diet was rather limited.  Now, the second time around I have read up and resourced more in depth what is need to one ensure i don’t become malnourished and 2 that I don’t hit any stalls with weight loss due to protein deficiency.  So before venturing into the world of vegetarianism please consult a registered dietician to ensure that you are not causing harm to yourself as you start your path to a healthier meat free/reduced meat diet.

Warm Mushroom Salad with mixed Greens 

This is a simple herbaceous salad that offers amazing mouth feel to those who are just starting out on the veggie brick road.  Mushrooms are often called the steaks of the fungus world because they offer enough of textural difference and “meaty” taste that they can often be subbed out in many of your meat recipes like stroganoff, sloppy joes, meatloaf, burgers.  The one thing I enjoy most about mushrooms are the fact that they are high in minerals.  One such important nutrient is selenium. While meat, seafood, grains, and nuts have excellent levels of the mineral, mushrooms are the only produce that have high levels of it, so they are especially important to include in your diet if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. I.e they are good eats and should be considered a stable in your diet plan. Now to the recipe which hey is the main reason why you are here right?

  • 8-10 oz your choice mushrooms {with the exception of white button mushrooms.  Think shiitake, portobello, oyster.  The meatier the better)
  • 1/2 diced white/yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced to a paste
  • greens: can be any lettuce, dark green, leafy green you want!
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons favorite crumbled cheese (feta, goat, bleu, etc.) or shaved Parmesan 
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 
  • croustini (optional)
  • prosciutto (optional)

In a medium sized fry skillet heat on medium heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  We are going to dismiss the myth that the addition of olive oil will help increase the smoke factor of butter.  Rubbish.  Regardless of the addition of oil at 375 degrees evaporation of water in the butter occurs causing the release of butter fats and milk proteins which can cause smoking.  The addition of oil personally just imparts an additional depth of flavor.  You can choose to omit this if necessary.  Once butter is melted and foaming add your mushrooms and onion and toss to coat.  Allow this to sweat for around 5 minutes until onions start to become translucent in color and then add 1 teaspoon of salt.  We don’t necessarily want to saute the vegetables as we dont want to impart any additional coloring. Then add the garlic paste and gently fold in.  Once you begin to smell garlic allow to sweat for an additional minute while you make your dressing.

In a medium non-reactive bowl (preferably glass) add your lemon juice (fresh squeezed preferably-juice those yellow orbs of love!!!!) and your salt and pepper and then slowly whisk in your olive oil to create an emulsion, or you can place it all in a jar, seal and shake the fuck out of it!!!! Work out those frustrations plus your biceps at the same time 🙂  In a separate bowl add your greens, micro greens, dandelion leaves and slowly pour the dressing along the circumference of the bowl.  This allows the ability to allow the dressing to go to the bottom of the bowl giving you the opportunity to gently coat your greens.  We don’t want them swimming in dressing so be gentle with this.  Once dressed sprinkle with another teaspoon of sea salt and cracked black pepper before transferring to serving dishes.

Divide your greens into two bowls and top with your mushrooms.  At this point you will add whatever cheese you like or if you are wanting to add an additional protein, thin slices of prosciutto.  I enjoy a chèvre (goat cheese) with mine but it’s your personal preference.  Pair it up with a couple slices of toasted croustini rubbed with raw garlic and enjoy.  This dish can be served as the salad course or the main entree and can be paired with your choice of white wine either dry or sweet or paired with a rose.

One of the interesting experiences I had with this salad was that before I was able to enjoy it I smelled beef stroganoff.  It was the most surreal thing and the meatiness of the oyster mushrooms satisfied the craving I had for beef.  I hope you enjoy making this and eating it with your family as I did 🙂