Blackened Fish with Creamy Grits and Chowchow
A triple threat of flavor
Happy Friday, dear readers, both new and old1. I’m not going to ramble on about the pontifications of my coiffeur today, so don’t worry about slogging through just to get to a vaguely written recipe! We’ll be a bit more concise today.
Partially, of course, because it’s Memorial Day Weekend. By and large Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year2. It’s the unofficial kickoff to the summer, generally a long weekend, and, of course, it celebrates and honors those who laid down their lives so we can enjoy the freedom to take a weekend to sit by a body of water, drink a couple soda pops, and eat too much. Tomorrow I’ll be doing the Murph workout to honor LT Michael Murphy, who did just that. However you’re celebrating this weekend, I’d encourage you to take a moment to read his Medal of Honor citation before you kick off the festivities.
But back to food! This would be a great opportunity to fire up the grill and make burgers3, ribs, or a big fat steak. Heck, I may do all three! I realize, though, some of you may be hankering for something a little lighter. So, with that in mind, let’s pretend we live in Charleston, SC, and make blackened fish with grits and chowchow4!
Start with the chowchow5, ideally the day or night before6. Dice up, very finely, a carrot, a pepper, a tomato, and whatever other fresh veggies you have on hand. I’ve used ramps, radishes, cabbage, celery, bok choy — you name it. Dump these in a mason jar (or other sealable container) and cover with about a half cup white vinegar, a half cup of sugar7, a tablespoon or so of smoked paprika, the same of salt, and whatever other spices you like in your pickles. Put this in the fridge to chill8.
Next, start your grits. Melt a knob of butter in a sauce pan, and add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk or buttermilk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then whisk in a cup of grits9. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the grits are done to your liking, stirring often so the grits don’t stick to the pan. Twenty to thirty minutes kinda feels like the sweet spot.
Finish off with the fish — dust a nice flaky white fish10 with a blackening seasoning. Heat a cast iron pan to hot, drop in some butter, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until the fish flakes when you poke it with a fork.
To serve, spread the grits in a low bowl, lay the fish over it, and top with chowchow. Enjoy!
There we go. A nice (semi-) light recipe to kick off what for many is a gluttonous weekend of eating. As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or need to debate on how long it should take to cook grits, drop a line below and I’ll get back to you!
And finally, as a parting note, we’re going to switch the format of this newsletter up a little bit starting next week. Thanks to all who have given feedback and suggestions!
Some of you have been here for over a year — thanks for sticking it out with me!
Right up there with Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.
Don’t worry, I had no idea what this was before I made it, but it’s delicious. At it’s core, it’s a pickled vegetable relish.
This will keep in the fridge for awhile. I’ve also eaten it after only about half an hour and it was still delightful.
Or less, if you’d prefer
Hake would be great, snapper, redfish, or whatever is freshest.