Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blackened Redfish with Grilled Peppers and Rice

Fishing was a big part of my youth.

My grandfather taught me to fish in the “tobacco pond” on his North Carolina farm. Later I taught myself to fish in the mosquito laden coves, Intracoastal waterway, and on the creaking ocean piers of Florida. Those sun washed days of waiting for the rod tip to twitch and bend produced plenty of fish but I never ate any. I'm a fish-o-phobe. Love catching them, hate eating them.

My son, Brett, and his friend took a fishing trip in Florida last week and returned with some fresh redfish. When I think of redfish I immediately think of blackened redfish made famous by Paul Prudhomme. That begs a question: If you blacken redfish (aka red drum) are you supposed to redden black drum?

I took this opportunity to try out a recipe or two from a book I will be reviewing soon, 1001 Best Grilling Recipes by Rick Browne. I took the blackening seasoning from one recipe for salmon and matched it with his Grilled Peppers & Rice. 

Blackened Redfish with Grilled Peppers & Rice

4 ea redfish fillets
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp parsley, fresh chopped
4 Tbsp butter

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2” wide strips
2 medium onions, cliced into ½ inch slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cup cooked long grain rice
½ cup cooked wild rice
¼ cup fresh basil
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp parsley, fresh chopped
¼ cup roasted red bell pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Start your rice at the same time you fire up the coal for your grill for a direct heat cook at 350f.

Mix the salt, pepper, cayenne, oregano, garlic and thyme for the fish seasoning.

Brush the onion slices and peppers with oil and grill 3-4 minutes per side, until the veggies have char marks and are tender. 

Remove and dice the vegetables.

Mix these veggies with the rice, basil, lemon juice, parsley, red bell pepper, salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Now put a cast iron skillet or griddle plate on the grill. I was using a Craycort castiron grate so I was able to just switch out one of the grates for a griddle insert. Whatever you use, you want to get it preheated HOT. Real friggin' HOT (technical culinary term)! Place the butter and parsley in a tiny sauce pan.

When grilling fish, here are two quick tips [Source:]
  1. Dry the exterior of the fish. This will help prevent sticking to the griddle pan and get a nice blackened instead of steamed crust.
  2. Keep the fish cold until the last possible minute by keeping it on a bed of crushed ice. Fish proteins break down quickly from heat.

Place the fillets on the griddle and top with 1 Tablespoon of the butter mixture. Be careful. If the butter splashes onto the glowing coals, it will flash over. Either way, it will smoke heavily. 

Cook for 2 minutes and then flip. Top with another Tablespoon of the butter. 

Cook for 2 more minutes and then remove from heat. Serve immediately with the rice.

I didn't eat the fish, because, is fish. Brett and Cameron devoured it though. But the grilled peppers and rice rocked. It reminded me of “dirty rice” without meat but amped up with the fire roasted veggies.  It is the perfect side dish for blackened redfish or just about any Cajun dish.