My favorite local seafood market (Catalina Offshore Products, in San Diego) sells fantastic fresh local fish as well as fish that they have flown in from other places around the globe. You may remember that I wrote about this place back when we had the Ceviche Blog Party. They have a mostly wholesale business selling to the restaurants in town, but not too long ago, they expanded their offerings to the public that are available before 2 o’clock most days. So I love to go there and select the perfect fish for a special dinner. But my work and travel schedule don’t always allow (ok, truthfully, I should say “seldom allow”) me to plan ahead and get to the fish market before 2 o’clock. In addition, I can’t just run down to the neighborhood grocery store these days for fresh fish because it seems like lately many of their choices are marked “previously frozen” or just look “tired” at best.
Well, I have found a great solution. Catalina Offshore Products sometimes has a grab bag of 5 lbs. of fish fillets for about $30 (used to be $25, but times change). This is the bargain of the century—$6 per lb. for the likes of salmon, mahi mahi, grouper, etc. You just get to pick, but I haven’t been disappointed yet. These fillets have been flash frozen in 1 lb. packets. I know it is still frozen, but so far so good. I have had great success thawing and cooking these fillets. On my recent trip (ok, it was really three+ weeks ago, but work travel got in the way of this post), I bought fresh fish for that night and a grab bag for later. The grab bag was a real winner—salmon, mahi mahi, seabass, fluke, and grouper!
That night I decided to thaw and cook the grouper. The 1 lb. package of grouper had 3 fillets, one of which I cut in half because it was so large. Here is a pic of the result.
Now, how did I get there? I melted 3-4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. I also heated a non-stick pan over medium heat. I patted the the fillets dry and brushed them with the butter. Then I sprinkled on cajun seasoning and dabbed on a little more butter to make sure the seasoning mix stuck to the fish. Just be careful not to remove the spices when “dabbing” with the additional butter.
If you don’t have any cajun seasoning on hand, you can make your own. For example, try the mixture below or experiment with your own variation. You can even add crushed red pepper flakes for more kick.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
Then I placed the seasoned side of the fish down in the pan. While that side cooked, I buttered and seasoned the other side. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, it takes about 6-10 minutes total for them to cook.
While the grouper was cooking, I put the olive-oil coated asparagus under the broiler.
Meanwhile, I prepared some quick-cooking polenta with a little butter, cream, pepper, and parmesan. While I prefer traditional, “slow-cooking” polenta, this is a great alternative when you are in a hurry. After bringing water to a boil, it is ready in 5-10 minutes. Fast, yummy, and satisfying on a cool evening.
© 2014 FoodieOasis