blackened okra and hot fish with “fried green tomatoes”

Whether you knew it or not, Nashville is known for hot chicken. I’ve posted about it before, but it’s been a while so let me refresh your memory. Basically, you apply a spicy paste to chicken and pan fry in cast iron. Of course, we’ve got a place in town that one-ups it by selling hot chicken and hot fish. In keeping with the Southern kick we’ve been on for a lot of the summer, here you go.

Sometimes the local grocery store surprises me. They had corvina. The best I can come up with is that it could be a type of croaker or drum. It looked like it had a reasonable texture, so I picked up three filets. When we rang them up, they said “redfish”. You got me.

Two big handfuls of okra
Curry powder
Paprika
Salt
Pepper
Oil of your choice
1/4 to 1/3 cup of water

With the pan on high heat, sautee with frequent tossing/stirring to get the seasoning all over the okra. When they start to look blackened, drop the heat to medium, add the water and cover. When they’re fork tender, they’re done.

Transfer the okra to serving dish, clean the same pan, and keep the okra somewhere warm. Oven at 170 should do the trick.

Corvina filets
You can substitute cod (a little flaky), snapper, halibut, sea bass, largemouth bass, tilapia. The key here is that you’d like a milder fish because the sauce is going to be pretty strong. If you have a delicately flavored fish like pompano, black cod, lobster, etc that has amazing flavor on it’s own, you might try a different preparation.
The fish filets are simply prepared by drying and adding salt and black pepper.
Pan on max heat add a little butter and olive oil mix. I don’t know why, habit I guess. I say max heat because these fish are going to be cold and the heat in the pan will drop quickly, so be ready.
While you’re cooking the fish, pay attention to the sides, and that will tell you all you need to know about “doneness.” In the picture below, you can see where the fish has changed from translucent to opaque.
In this case, it’s about half done, time to flip. The higher you can keep your temperature, the more likely you’ll be to get that nice brown crust.

I didn’t any flour or batter, this is simply a product of high heat.
Flip the fish, and get ready for your sauce.

Two green tomatoes, plum sized, fine dice
Crystal hot sauce
Pat of butter
Olive oil

When the fish are done, keep them somewhere warm. Remember that warming oven you cranked up? Turn it off, and put the fish on a wire rack so they don’t steam and overcook on one side.

Add the tomato to the pan on high heat and blast it until it starts to caramelize a bit. Turn the heat down, add the butter and as much Crystal as you can stand.

Really, it’s not that hot. Tabasco is a lot hotter.
Once it starts to thicken up a bit, pull it off the fire and add to mixing bowl. Add a little olive oil at this point and make a vinaigrette (you remember, right?). That’s the bed for your fish, add the okra. A “new” Southern classic?

Notes:

1. The blackening comes when the paprika burns a little bit. To make blackened anything all you really need are high heat, paprika, and maybe some cumin.
2. I used nonstick for the fish, although you could easily choose stainless. You may want to consider not using cast iron because of a potential reaction with the tomatoes, but I’m not positive about that.
3. Don’t overlook the application of green tomatoes. The only problem is that unless you have access to garden, you’re not going to find them.

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