I love my clients.
It’s easy to feel insecure sometimes when you’re in the food business and certainly the food blogging business. Although you put your heart and soul into what you do, it may not always be accepted with the same love and passion that you put into it. But…..that’s life.
Yesterday, wonderful clients I was cooking for returned from a stay in Key West raving about all the fantastic food they had there. They were starving when they walked in the door and I had just seared off this Blackened Halibut and mixed together the Mango and Avocado Salsa. They didn’t want me to cool it down and place in the refrigerator–they wanted to eat it there and then!
I finished it in the oven and they enjoyed it in front of me along with a quinoa tabbouleh I prepared earlier in the day. After they devoured it, they said, “Top notch meal. This is as good or better than anything we had in Key West.”
I love my clients.
The appearance of fresh halibut at area fish counters is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Fishing of Pacific halibut is carefully regulated which makes it a highly sustainable seafood choice. Fresh halibut is available now through October.
The lightly charred crust that results from “blackening” creates a pleasant contrast to this mild, flaky fish. Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with creating this cooking method in the 1980’s and it remains hugely popular today. Basically, a blend of herbs and spices is rubbed onto fish, meat or poultry and then quickly seared at a high temperature. Commercial blends are available, however, I prefer to blend my own so that I can control the amount of salt and heat. A good, seasoned cast iron skillet is ideal for blackening food.
After searing the halibut for approximately two minutes per side in a butter and oil combination, I transfer it to a baking dish to finish cooking in the oven instead of transferring the cast iron skillet—fish and all—to the oven. The outside will already be nicely charred and because the butter and oil will be extremely hot, it can start to burn and smoke in your oven.
This tangy mango and avocado salsa pairs perfectly with the blackened halibut. Good Florida mangos and California avocados are both in season. A ripe mango should yield gently to pressure when squeezed and have a light, fruity aroma at the stem end. A ripe avocado should also yield gently to pressure. This salsa also pairs well with other types of blackened or grilled fish, shrimp or chicken.
Serve with a rice pilaf, creamy grits or….quinoa taboulleh!
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
FISH AND SALSA
2 pieces halibut (6-8 ounce) skin removed
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper (seeded if desired), finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 large lime, juiced
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Combine ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
FISH: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat fish dry then season liberally with blackening mix. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the butter and oil. As soon as the butter melts, add fish to skillet. Cook 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking pan, place in oven and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Meanwhile, combine salsa ingredients in a bowl; serve with fish.