Monday, August 29, 2011
I never really know what to do with fish. The problem is that I really like fish, so I enjoy eating it broiled, or grilled. I like it plain and unadorned. A simple squeeze of lemon sometimes, but thick mayonnaise based things like tarter sauce are strictly prohibited. I often make fun of the food I grew up with in the midwest, the bland flavor. I joke with my mother that ketchup is too spicy for her. When it comes to fish I am still that girl who grew up on Lake Superior. With the exception of Walleye, which was always served breaded, all other fish was simply baked or grilled in the summer. That's the way it should be. Because of this I have always had a hard time with fish as an ingredient, such as fish soup or chowder. It took me a really long time to get used to the idea of fish tacos. Now that we live in Alaska and have a freezer full of fish thanks to David's friends Sarah who gave us a freezer full of salmon last year and Lorna who recently gave us a generous supply of halibut, I feel like I can finally branch out a bit and try fish dressed up a little bit and maybe even add a little spice. This Cajun Halibut is not too spicy, if you like it really hot I recommend a heavy hand with the cayenne.
Cajun Halibut served with Dirty Rice and Praline Sauce
adapted from Annie's Eats
For the rice:
1 link Italian sausage, casing removed
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup long grain brown rice
1½ cups chicken or veggie broth
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped scallions
For the sauce:
½ cup pecans
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. whiskey
For the fish:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 halibut fillets (about 6 oz. each)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To make the rice, crumble the sausage into a skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until just softened. Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes (look at directions on your rice package, some brands take more or less time). Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the scallions. Fluff with a fork.
About five minutes before the rice is done cooking, make the praline sauce. Toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Coarsely chop the pecans, transfer to a plate and set aside. Return the pan to medium heat. Combine the sugar and water, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the toasted pecans and salt, and cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey until smooth. Use immediately. The sauce will thicken upon standing, but can be rewarmed over low heat.
To prepare the fish, combine the oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend. Pat the mixture over both sides of the fish. Lay the sprigs of time across the top of the fish. Wrap the halibut in parchment paper and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet. Serve over the dirty rice and topped with the warm praline sauce.