Monday, June 22, 2015

Cajun Blackened Swordfish Steak with Papaya Chutney

     There Is No Shortage Of Flavor In Louisiana Cuisine!
     Cajun Blackening is a very old cooking technique.  Blackened seafood became popular outside of Louisiana in the 1980's.
     Blackened Grouper or Blackened Redfish were the two most popular items at a Florida fine dining restaurant kitchen that I cooked in back in the '80's.  The chef was from Switzerland and he was trained in France.  We cooked some very nice Louisiana style seafood entrées at that bayside restaurant.  We made our own Blackening Spice Mix too.
     We bought and sold redfish, swordfish, pompano, sea bass, snapper and grouper by the pallet!  I cut so many fresh fish filet portions during prep hours before dinner service, that it was mind boggling.  I was and I still am an expert when it comes to preparing seafood.
     The key to handling seafood in the tropics is to work quickly and to keep the seafood ice cold.  It is essential to keep seafood chilled in the tropics or you risk airborne bacterial contamination.  One bad piece of fish can contaminate a bin full of fish.  Serving spoiled fish is a great way to lose every customer that you have.

     Papaya Chutney:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups of chutney!
     Step 1:  Boil 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2/3 cup of cider vinegar.
     Add 2/3 cup of sugar.
     Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped peeled apple.
     Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion.
     *Taste the liquid.  The mixture should taste like a balanced sweet and sour flavor.
     Step 2:  Rapidly reduce the liquid over medium high heat, till it becomes a very light syrup.  The apple and onion should turn into pectin by this time.  (The volume will be about 2 cups.)
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced dried fruit.  (Dried cherries, prunes, white raisons or dark raisons are best for making chutney.  The dried fruit adds extra depth and flavor.)    
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin strips of fresh lemon zest.
     Add 2 finely chopped green onions.  (Only use the white sections of the green onions.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1 finely minced seeded Green Habanero Chile Pepper.
     Add 1 2/3 cups of small diced peeled and seeded papaya fruit.
     Step 4:  Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of garam masala.
     Step 5:  Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the excess liquid evaporates and the chutney is a thick fruit preserves consistency.
     Step 7:  Cool the chutney to room temperature.
     Place the chutney into a storage container.
     Cool the chutney in a refrigerator.
     Allow the chutney to sit undisturbed in the refrigerator for at least 1 week.  (It really takes two weeks for the flavors to fully meld in a chutney.)

     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix: 
     This recipe yields enough Cajun blackening spice for about 3 or 4 fish portion applications.
     The tiny amount of sugar helps to caramelize the highlights of the grains of the fish meat.  The small dash of flour helps the spice mix to stick to the fish.
     This is a basic Cajun blackening spice mix with no extra herbs.    
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.
     Add 4 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Mix the ingredients together.

     Cajun Blackened Swordfish Steak:
     Blackening does produce some heavy smoke.  Be sure that the kitchen fan is on and that the kitchen is well ventilated.     
     Step 1:  Dredge a 6 to 8 ounce swordfish steak in the blackening spice mix.
     Step 2:  Heat 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     When the butter begins to smoke, tilt the pan so there is a dry area in the pan to place the fish.  (Do this so the hot butter does not splash.  The butter is so hot, that it can cause severe burns.)
     Lay the pan flat again, so the fish is searing in the hot smoking butter.
     Sear the swordfish steak for about 4 minutes on each side, till black highlights appear.  Only flip the fish steak once!
     Step 3:  When the fish is done cooking, use a spatula to place the fish on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess butter.

     Cajun Blackened Swordfish Steak with Papaya Chutney:
     Transfer the Blackened Swordfish Steak to a serving plate.
     Mound about 3 tablespoons of Papaya Chutney on the fish.
     Garnish the fish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice.
     Candied yams are very nice with blackened fish!
     The spicy blackened swordfish is seared dark on the outside and the juices are sealed in.  Blackened fish and chutney go well together!

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