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So once again I am in Central Market and telling the fishmonger I am looking for wild-caught, fresh, mild tasting fish. I was disappointed to not see the Dover sole this week as I wanted to make the classic, Sole Meuniere. This week’s recommendation was the red fish. I asked for advice in preparation and the fishmonger told me to bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. I asked if he put any oil or butter on it, and he recommended that I talk to Gracie, the chef-in-residence that day in the meat and fish department. She recommended pan frying it. And she said, that really her favorite was to blacken it.

Blackened Red Fish….I haven’t eaten that since the 1980’s. I did like it then, so blackened red fish it is. I decide to make roasted petite yellow dutch potatoes with garlic and thyme and broiled tomatoes as my sides.

I surf the web for blackened recipes and realize that I don’t have all the spices to make any of the spice mixes, so I decide to use a cajun rub I have made by Adams Reserve. I add finely chopped fresh French thyme and oregano to the rub. As blackened fish will cook very quickly, I decide to prep everything and then start the potatoes in the oven while I heat the skillet. I turn on the exhaust fan, open my kitchen window and the nearby french doors in my dining room and, as a final safe guard against the anticipated smoke, close the door to my laundry room where the smoke detector is located. As I wait for the pan to turn ashy-white, I start imagining a blazing fire and wish I had a fire extinguisher under my sink. The pan starts smoking and, little by little, the black finish turns grey-white. I dipped the filets in butter and sprinkled them with the spice mixture and rubbed it in. When the pan is mostly grey, i decide to get on with it and put the fish in the pan. As soon as the fish touches the pan, smoke is rising up. I add a teaspoon of melted butter to the top of each filet and the smoke level really kicks up. I know that at this heat level it will only take a couple of minutes on each side. It is the moment I fear most, when I have to turn the fish. Will it be stuck to the bottom of the skillet? A sigh of relief as the fish turns with ease. Another teaspoon of melted butter on each filet, more smoke and two minutes later the fish is done. What do drink with this? I think a margarita is perfect for blackened fish. I serve the fish with clarified butter, a lime wedge on the side, and a margarita. I squeeze the lime over the fish and dig in. What’s not to love about something a little spicy with a hint of lime dipped in butter? It is divine. I would prefer if the spice mix had a little more heat. I will work on a from-scratch spice mix for next time I make this. Yes, I said it. Next time!! 

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