Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On Blackened fish, Kid Rock, and Summer Plans

I'm embarrassed to admit that I first heard about Walleye from Kid Rock in that All Summer Long song that took to the airwaves a few summers ago. Walleye is native to the Midwest, unlike yours truly, and is frequently served panfried. I saw it yesterday at Whole Foods and it looked lovely, so I brought it home and mixed together a quick blackened spice rub (see below), grilled some veggies on the side (just peppers and onions), and made a quick salad from the abundance of greens in my CSA sack.

This is a good time to promote the Chicago Lights Urban Farm, the good folks behind my summer salad share. I'm really pleased with the produce, and the farm itself is a little oasis in the city. This week, my share included Nero radishes, which are big, black, beautiful - and spicy! Whoa baby. If I were French, I'd slather a baguette with unsalted Plugra and top it with Nero slices. Chef Dominique Tougne was serving radish and butter aperitifs at Chez Moi last summer and they were delightful. Click here for Saveur's directions for making your own.

Back to the Walleye...I enjoy panfried fish, though prefer to do the panfrying myself. The last time I ate Walleye was at a restaurant around New Buffalo, MI, the panfrying was too aggressive. To create a good blackened seasoning, I consulted James Peterson's Fish and Shellfish cookbook and ended up following his recipe. Here it is:

JP's Blackened Seasoning
1 T dried thyme
1 T dried oregano
2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne
Several turns fresh ground white pepper

To cook the fish, I set my cast iron pan over a medium high flame to heat. Then I mixed the spice rub on a long platter, rubbing it all together and smashing up the dried spices with my fingers. Next I transferred the Walleye (the fishmonger removed the skin for me) to the platter, dousing one side with olive oil and turning to coat both sides of the fish with olive oil and the dry rub. Then I cut the fish into serving size pieces (I made them small-ish, so each person would have 2-3 pieces, but cut as you wish). With the pan now nice and hot, I added a tablespoon or less of canola oil, and tipped the pan around to coat the bottom evenly. I added the fish and cooked it for about 4 minutes on one side and about 2-3 min on the other side. To determine if its done, test one piece to see if it flakes - just cut off a corner and peek. Serve immediately.

What else am I up to this summer? Well, I'm going to pick up where I left off with my winter Algebra class thru Coursera (or retake the course entirely, as might be required). I'm also brushing up on my French via Duolingo. The latter allows for fierce inter-family competition, the likes of which we've not seen since Super Mario came to the Wii. I'm also looking forward to some serious cooking. Here's a taste of what will be coming out of my kitchen this summer:

Sriracha-glazed chicken skewers (already had these and they were fabulous)
Singapore chili lobster (this is going to be an adventure)
- This Ciopinno;
- Slate-griddled Porterhouse steaks with Roquefort;
- Miche, my lastest favorite bread. Get yours at La Fournette which produced a Blackhawks Miche, pictured here, upside-down;
- Breakfast Crepes with Peaches, Cinnamon Sugar, and Raspberry Jam;
- Half sour pickles (one of my favorite pickles!)

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