Monday, January 30, 2012

Seafood Serenade

Taste of Australia: Paperbark-steamed Barramundi Fillets 

Barramundi’s nearly 24-inch length and 9-pound weight make it a good choice for barbecues, picnics and potlucks. One fish can easily feed 10 to 15 people when combined with grilled pineapple, fresh corn on the cob and your favorite side dishes. Soaked paperbark holds in moisture and flavor while your barramundi is on the grill. 

8 barramundi fillets
8 ears fresh corn
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
Fresh-ground red and black peppercorns
2 whole lemons
2 whole blood oranges
1 fresh pineapple, sliced
8 pieces soaked paperbark
8 tbsp. pickled ginger
8 tsp. wasabi paste

Soak the corn in water for 30 minutes while still in its shucks.

Lay barramundi fish fillets in a shallow, glass baking dish with 1/2-inch space between each piece. Sprinkle them generously with fresh-ground red and black peppercorns. Mix the lemon juice, pineapple juice and orange juice together and pour it over each barramundi fillet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place each barramundi fish fillet on a slice of soaked paperbark. Slice the lemons and oranges and alternate the slices over each fillet. Wrap the barramundi fillets in the paperbark and tuck the ends under.

Place the soaked corn in the coals to steam. Lay the wrapped barramundi fish fillets on the grill and allow them to steam for five minutes on each side.

Brush pineapple slices with olive oil and grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve the barramundi fish fillets, pineapple slices and the corn unwrapped with 1 tbsp. pickled ginger and 1 tsp. wasabi paste on the side.

Buy only firm, white-fleshed barramundi with clear, shiny eyes and a backbone that springs back when pressed with a finger, advises Worldwide Gourmet food editor, Michele Serre.

Brett Harris; cook; Perth, Western Australia
Worldwide Gourmet; Barramundi; Michele Serre

Chipotle Tilapia Adobo 

I created this recipe for chipotle tilapia adobo tacos in 1989 for a friend from El Salvador. Tilapia is a freshwater fish from Africa with mild-tasting flesh, making it ideal for pairing with zesty spice blends.

I am not a chef, nor do I have anything more than prep-cook-level experience, serving groups of 10 to 50 at schools, churches and country-music-association picnics on special occasions over the course of ten years and weekly meals for a day program for people with disabilities for two years.

I have only served this chipotle tilapia to about 40 people, and they all had quite a bit of alcohol in their systems when they ate it, so I can't vouch for how it tastes to anyone but me when sober. ;) It is very spicy, which is why it should be served with sour cream and guacamole.

Ingredients and Equipment:
2 rectangular glass casserole dishes with covers
12-inch diameter saute pan
Wide spatula
2 serving platters
Paper towels
1 whole lime
Lemon zester
1/4 cup tequila
7.5-oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 lbs. tilapia fillets
1/4 cup corn oil
Fresh corn tortillas
Cookie sheet
3 tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro
8 chopped Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp. sour cream per person
2 tbsp. guacamole per person

Use the lemon zester to make curls of lime peel by pulling from one tip to the other. Set the lime curls aside.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the blender. Add 1/2 of the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the tequila. Pulse until everything liquefies.

Arrange the tilapia fillets 1/4-inch apart in a rectangular glass casserole dish and pour the chipotle-lime tequila sauce over them. Cover the casserole dish and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat a saute pan for one minute on medium-high heat before adding the corn oil. Heat for two additional minutes. Pan-fry the chipotle-coated tilapia fillets four at a time, spaced 1/2-inch apart, for five minutes on each side.

Remove each tilapia fillet from the pan as it browns and drain it on a serving plate covered with paper towels.

Heat fresh corn tortillas in the oven, in a single layer on a cookie sheet, for one minute at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap each tilapia fillet in a tortilla and place on a serving platter.

Combine 3 tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro, 8 finely-chopped Roma tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped onions in a small mixing bowl to make salsa. Serve chipotle tilapia adobo tacos with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Cornbread-Crusted Gingered Catfish 

Ginger snaps, pickled ginger and cornmeal give catfish a spicy crunch while keeping the fish tender and flaky.

Ingredients and Equipment
    4 pounds catfish fillets
    Glass casserole dish
    1 quart buttermilk
    Pepper grinder with mixed peppercorns
    8 cornmeal muffins
    5 quart mixing bowl
    4 ounces fresh or pickled ginger root
    Chef's knife
    Polyester cutting mat
    1/4 cup sour cream
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 cup chopped red onion
    1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    8 ginger snaps
    High-sided cookie sheet
    Meat thermometer
    8 green onion tops
    4 tablespoons orange peel curls

Lay the catfish fillets in a glass casserole dish, spaced at least 1/2-inch apart. Pour the buttermilk over the fillets and give the pepper grinder 2 to 4 twists over each catfish fillet. Refrigerate the fillets for 1 hour.

Crumble the cornmeal muffins into the 5 quart mixing bowl. Cut the 4-ounce piece of ginger root in half. Mince half the ginger root with a chef's knife and add it to the crumbled cornbread.

Stir the sour cream and lemon juice into the gingered cornbread mixture. Add half of the chopped red onion and all of the red bell pepper. Mix by hand until well-blended.

Line a high-sided cookie sheet with foil. Remove the catfish fillets from the refrigerator. Pour off the buttermilk and discard it.

Lay the catfish fillets on the cookie sheet with at least 1/4-inch of space between them. Spoon a thin layer of the gingered-cornbread mixture onto each catfish fillet. Crumble one ginger snap over each fillet.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the catfish fillets for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and adjust the temperature to 400 degrees F. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cornbread crust browns.

Garnish each catfish fillet with orange curls and green onion tops. Serve ginger-cornbread-crusted catfish fillets with sweet potato fries and cole slaw.

Soaking catfish or other fin fish in buttermilk helps offset their earthy flavor, according to Linda Stradley, author of "What's Cooking America." Fin fish turns opaque and flakes apart when done, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Cook fin fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F as measured with a meat thermometer to ensure safety.

What's Cooking America; Catfish History -- Catfish Recipes; Linda Stradley

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service; Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer's Guide to Food Safety; March 2001 

Super Bowl Appetizers: Bacon-wrapped Catfish Nuggets

Savory catfish nuggets steeped in orange juice and brandy, wrapped in strips of maple-cured, hickory-smoked bacon make mouthwatering appetizers. Pile them into red and green bell-pepper boats and serve them at your next Super Bowl party, along with a generous platter of jalapeno poppers, waffle fries and onion rings. Add a bowl of orange-brandy ranch dip for a cool, creamy finish.

4 pounds catfish nuggets
8 ounces orange juice
4 ounces VSOP brandy
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
3 peeled garlic cloves
9-by-12-inch glass casserole dish
Double boiler with strainer insert
Paper towels
2 pounds sliced Virginia bacon
Sharp chef's knife
Broiler pan
Coating mix:
Shallow baking dish
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh-ground mixed peppercorns
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 cup crushed ginger snaps
Ranch dip mix:
16 ounces plain yogurt
8 ounces grated pepper Jack cheese
1 tablespoon chicken soup base crystals
2 tablespoons Tapa Ti'o or Crystal's hot sauce
1 package ranch dip mix
3 quart glass mixing bowl
4 red bell peppers
4 green bell peppers
Paring knife

Mix 8 ounces of orange juice with 4 ounces of VSOP brandy, the tarragon, parsley flakes and peeled garlic cloves in a 9-by-12-inch glass casserole dish. Toss the catfish nuggets in the spiced, brandied orange juice mixture until well-coated. Refrigerate for two to three hours to allow the juice to soak into the catfish, advises Jim Tarantino, author of "Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes."

Place a strainer insert in the double boiler and strain all the marinade into the pan. Allow the catfish nuggets to drain in the strainer for at least 10 minutes. Blot the catfish nuggets dry on paper towels and lay them on a platter lined with additional paper towels.

Bring the marinade to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Allow the marinade to boil for five full minutes before removing the pan from the heat. Allow the boiled marinade to return to room temperature over the next 15 minutes before refrigerating it until ready to use.

Place the bacon in the freezer for ten minutes to make it easier to slice. Slice the bacon strips in half, using a sharp chef's knife. 

Wash the glass casserole dish in a sink of hot water with a teaspoon of bleach and dry it with paper towels. Mix the all-purpose flour, fresh-ground mixed peppercorns, onion powder, granulated garlic and crushed ginger snaps together in the clean, dry baking dish. Dredge each catfish nugget in the coating mix.

Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each catfish nugget and secure it with a toothpick.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with aluminum foil and put the top piece in position. Arrange the bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets on broiler pan, 1/2-inch apart.

Bake the bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as recommended by the Catfish Institute. Lower heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and the catfish is flaky and white.

Mix the Neufchatel or cream cheese, grated pepper Jack cheese, chicken soup base crystals, Tapa Ti'o or Crystal's hot sauce and the ranch dip mix in a 3-quart glass mixing bowl until well-blended. Add the chilled, boiled marinade and stir again until well-blended.

Slice the tops off the red and green bell peppers. Slice each pepper in half from stem to tip and remove the seeds and as much white pith as you can, using a paring knife. Chop the tops of the peppers and add them to the dip.

Fill each pepper half with about 2 ounces of dip. Serve 1/4-pound of bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets per person with 1 half-pepper filled with dip and 1/4-pound of waffle fries or onion rings on the side.
Serves 16.



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