The Boil Advisory, Issue #2
A recipe for redfish and a few local businesses to support
I fell down a Twitter rabbit hole this week, responding to clickbait rhetoric posted, nonstop, by elected officials. I know better, but… so do they? It’s maddening, and now that’s two full days I can’t get back. Then again, what is time? I wouldn’t know the day of the week right now if it weren’t for a vain effort to keep my NYT Crossword streak alive.
A couple weeks back, I realized that the funk of the pandemic—the weight of isolation and constant uncertainty—had finally caught up to me, after a steady 10 months of significant distractions (new relationship! new pup! lots of work! new house!). Acknowledging this has been helpful in identifying a few ways to help shake off the slump, even if for short periods of time, which seems to be long enough to regain a little cooking inspiration. Last weekend, we hosted a virtual dinner party of sorts, then had close family over for a meal a few days later for the first time since… November? Turns out, I’ve really missed community.
Which may explain why I signed up, on a whim, for my first kayak fishing tournament. I’ll share the story of how I got into kayaking another time, but Saturday’s contest was a humble reminder that, well, I’m just not that competitive. I didn’t come close to winning anything, but I put a 21-inch redfish in the cooler. But how do you cook it? Hold on, we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, though: thank you for subscribing. This little project also ties in to the aforementioned desire for community. Let’s get into some links, a recipe for that fish, and the crawfish TikTok I promised.
Local Food News
Jimmy Lemarie—co-founder of Liuzza’s by the Track—passed away on Sunday. Matassa’s Market in the French Quarter, open since 1924, closed its doors for good. Pagoda Café, shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic, has reopened and is reorganizing as a worker-owned cooperative. Kin is also back. So is Semolina, as a ghost kitchen. And Vaucresson Sausage Co. says it’s back on track for a reopening later this year.
In pop-up news, Luncheon has taken up residency at Zony Mash on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Mister Mao is setting up one last time at Congregation Coffee this coming weekend. Also, Coquette’s No Menu Tuesday is back!
On Monday, Jamboree Jams launched a crowdfunding campaign to help the business grow into a new space. River Queen Greens also launched a campaign recently, to help subsidize the cost of providing farm shares to neighbors who can’t afford them. And Top Box Foods has an ongoing campaign to raise funds for a second truck, which will help distribute healthy foods to families throughout southeast Louisiana.
Lots of new subscribers today—if you’ve already taken this quick survey, thank you! If you haven’t, there’s still time to fill it out before we give away that Coutelier gift card. The input so far has been helpful in finding several new accounts to follow and in seeding ideas for future stories. I’ll draw an email address at random on February 1.
What’s in the Pot?
This week, it’s what’s on the grill: redfish “on the half-shell” with charred collards, finished with a vinaigrette that’s tart enough to brighten a dreary mood.
Redfish is a common sport fish down here—they’re bigger than most inshore fish, put up a hell of a fight, and are fairly easy to find throughout our brackish marsh. They’re forgiving to cook, too, though you wouldn’t know that from all of the post-fishing meal photos that guys post in local Facebook groups. Yes, it can be blackened. But when anything’s this fresh, I like to keep the prep simple: salt, black pepper, olive oil. Unless I’m smoking the fish, I also leave the skin and scales on (ergo, half-shell)—preserving a thin layer of fat that melts under the meat, adding flavor and making it all the easier to cook and serve the fillet and belly.
If it were actually winter here, I might opt to bake this off at 400° for 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness. Alas, it’s 70 and humid outside (humble brag), so I fired up the grill. Redfish is incredibly tender when cooked to exactly 145°, but it can handle the heat if you leave it in/on a little too long, or get the grill hotter than expected—twice in the last week, thank you, but that’s better for the collards anyway. Speaking of: wash a bunch of collards, de-stem the large ones, then toss the leaves in a little olive oil and put them directly over the hottest spot on the grill. They’ll bubble and pop and tender up in just a couple of minutes, and the flavor of the charred greens will hold when folded into a heap of cooked wild rice.
To serve, I like to make a vinaigrette for my fish. My go-to has been a mixture of lemon, parsley, sometimes sumac, but I’ve been on a dill kick lately, and this one’s sure to make you pucker:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 preserved lemon (I’m sure there’s a workaround, but these are worth keeping in the fridge—we can dig into that later)
1/4 oz fresh dill (half of a grocery store clamshell), or more to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper
Remove the thick stems from the dill, then toss everything into a wide-mouth pint jar and mix it with a stick blender until it’s emulsified and silky. (You could do this with a whisk, but the stick blender eliminates chopping the herbs and makes emulsification SO much easier.) Taste the mix and adjust as needed—the salt from the lemon should season it, but don’t hesitate to add more of the brine it was preserved in.
We like a lot of acidity in this house, so the tartness is intentional here—if you want to dress a salad with this, you’ll need to add 1/2 to 1 full cup more of the olive oil, but it’ll keep in the fridge for weeks.
Rémy and I are also sticking to our schedule of trying a different king cake every week. Thanks to our CSA share, we’re eating a lot of salad right now, supplementing that with a box of goodies from Good Trouble Network.
Last week, we filled the Dutch oven with “split PPP” soup, à la Ali Slagle, for a virtual dinner party to mark the change in political seasons. It was filled with good company and food puns that attempted to make light of the last few years.
A few favorite dish names from others:
Don’t Tread on Meatloaf
Double Impeached Cobbler, Kamala Mode
Spaghetti Squash the Insurrection
Fired “Joint” Chief of Staff
Kamala 4 Rice Prez
Coup d’etater Tots
Obviously, we needed a cocktail to wash it all down—The American 46:
1 shot bourbon or rye (we used Maker’s Mark 46 in honor of the inauguration, but will use Sazerac Rye next time for a local twist, and a little more bite)
1/2 shot lemon juice
1/2 shot simple syrup
Carla Briggs of Viola’s Heritage Breads talks about the overlooked contributions African Americans have made to the food industry and shares a recipe for sweet potato cinnamon rolls on the King Arthur blog.
Cook-off for the Coast returns in a modified format for its fourth celebration and competition.
Bayou-to-Big-Apple chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois returns to his hometown of Thibodaux for a six-part video series, Duck Camp Dinners.
In Where NOLA Eats, my friend Emily makes the mistake of trying to find an egg salad sandwich.
Last but certainly not least is this TikTok of barbecued crawfish that I can’t stop replaying. I’ll give this a go when the season’s crop gets a little bigger.
Thank you for subscribing. Reach out (anytime) with any questions/feedback/story leads. See y’all again in two weeks!
Until then, say it with me:
I will not tweet at elected officials.
I will not tweet at elected officials.
I will not tweet at elected officials.