Plantain Chip Grouper with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

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Improvised dinners are often the best.  Everyone has those days when you raid the pantry to see what you can possibly pull together with what you have on hand.  That is usually how my best ideas are born.

 

I started with a jar of All-Natural Black Bean Salsa.  It is good, but it needed some help.  Fresh diced pineapple, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and fresh garlic helped to brighten it up.  You really can’t go wrong here… mango would be delicious if pineapple isn’t available.  If you want, you can even BUY pineapple salsa or use whatever you have on hand.  After I made the salsa, I set it aside while I prepared the fish.

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You’ll need some delicious fresh Grouper (this would be great with any white fish… especially Mahi or Snapper).  I had some tiny kitchen helpers crush plantain chips for me.

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I coated ONLY the top side of the fish portions in flour, egg wash, and crushed plantain chips.  You can coat the entire portion if you’d like, but it really isn’t necessary.

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Place the fish CRUST SIDE DOWN in a hot pan with a small amount of oil over high heat.  Give it about a minute to get nice and brown.  It will form a nice crust and the fish will barely start to cook.  Flip the fish and transfer to an oven-safe dish.  Finish cooking in a preheated 400-degree oven.  (My fish took about 5 minutes to finish cooking.)

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Top the fish with the salsa and you’re ready to eat!  I served this with coconut Jasmine rice (just replace half of the water with coconut milk).  It’s like being somewhere in the tropics when you’re really at home!

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Grilled Grouper and Shrimp in Parchment

Sometimes, weekends call for elaborate meals resulting from marathons in the kitchen.  Sometimes, I just like to enjoy the chaos a little bit longer and find an easy way out when it comes to dinner.  This doesn’t have to mean calling for a pizza delivery.  We ended up spending at the beach a little longer than expected on Saturday evening.  The gorgeous weather and the sight of a baby sea turtle heading off to sea were far more intriguing to us than dinner!  Still, I wasn’t about to sacrifice the chance to have delicious and healthy seafood.

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The grill is obviously a great choice when you don’t want to mess up the kitchen and be doing dishes at 9 pm, but some items are just too fragile for the grill (like the Royal Red shrimp I had brought home with me).  This is when foil and parchment can be your best friend.  It’s very forgiving and you can pretty much put any combination of herbs, seasonings, or vegetables inside with the fish.  You can cook it in the oven OR on the grill.

I started with squares of parchment paper and folded each square in half, Grouper, Royal Red Shrimp, sliced lemon, a few tablespoons of butter, and chopped garlic.

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I placed a piece of Grouper right against the crease in the paper so it was sort of in the middle.  You can add anything to it you’d like!  I added sliced lemon, a tablespoon of butter, a little chopped garlic, and parsley.  I also had some Royal Red Shrimp on hand so I added those as well.  The more the merrier!  After you build your fish with everything you want, go ahead and fold the paper over and start turning and creasing the edges so that you end up with either a square or a semi-circle shape.

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Obviously, you can’t put this directly on the grill.  Use a cookie sheet or something else that is safe for the grill to provide a barrier between the flames and the paper.  350 – 400 degrees is a good temperature whether you are using the grill or the oven.  We left ours on the around 20 minutes with the lid closed.  You obviously have to guess a little bit since you can’t see the fish, but once I heard things bubbling I was confident that it was finished cooking.

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When we removed them from the grill, the paper was slightly brown but not burnt by any means.

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By enclosing the fish in the parchment, you are essentially steaming it.  There is no need for any oils or breading or coating.  This is about as simple and as healthy as it gets!  I didn’t even add salt.  The lemon flavored every single bite of the fish.  It was tender and delicious!  The best part about it was that there was not a single pot or pan to be washed at the end of the night.

 

 

Bacon-Wrapped Grouper with Spicy Coconut Raspberry Sauce

I will start this off by saying that this is not entirely my original idea.  Here’s the story: I once fell completely in love with a wonderful local restaurant that specialized in Bahamian fare.  Sadly, this restaurant closed only a short time after it opened.  This is a common occurrence in South Florida.  It’s tough out there!

A conversation at the office on Saturday had me thinking about some of the dishes I used to enjoy there.  One of my favorites was a Grouper Cheek appetizer.  It had bacon and a raspberry sauce.  Amazing.  I started wondering why I had never attempted to recreate this one at home, as I have done with several other things I find myself longing for.  I quickly decided to take the plunge and we were NOT disappointed.  Not one bit.

What is a Grouper Cheek?  It comes from a Grouper.  It actually comes from the area right between the mouth and the gill… the cheek, if fish really had “cheeks”.  It’s a tender little medallion of deliciousness.  Because this is considered a “byproduct” of processing fish, the price is great despite the excellent quality.  For example, the Grouper Cheeks at Cod & Capers are cut from the same fish that the gorgeous fillets are cut from.  The Grouper Cheeks are $7.95/lb and the fillet is $23.95/lb.  You can see the value here, right?  It’s not for everyone but it’s worth a try.  At the shop, we have a limited number of these available for purchase each day.  By the time I had this grand idea, they were nearly sold out.  I settled for a piece of Grouper fillet instead.  No big deal.  It’s interchangeable in most recipes.

This is what Grouper Cheeks look like, in case you are curious.

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What You Will Need:

  • 1 Small Container of Raspberries (there were about 30 in mine)
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Natural Coconut
  • 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Powder (optional)
  • 1 Pound of Grouper
  • Bacon

 

I started with a pound of Grouper fillet.  I cut it into four equal pieces and got ready to wrap it in bacon.

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Something I have learned when dealing with bacon:  in order to achieve the crispy texture without overcooking whatever is inside the bacon, skip the thick cut variety and go for the thinnest bacon you can buy.  I wrapped mine in two different directions and made sure that the bacon overlapped on the underside (it sticks to itself quite well) and that all the seams were hidden.

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This seemed like an appropriate time to season the fish.  Since I knew I wanted a little heat in the sauce, I wanted to have a little on the fish as well.  I knew I had to be careful about salt with all that bacon, so I decided to very lightly season it with my favorite blackening seasoning.  I put them back in the fridge while I tackled the sauce.

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I was a little unsure of where to start with the sauce.  I knew I liked the one I had before, but thought a little heat might be a nice addition.  I started with one small container of raspberries and 2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar.  I put them in a small pan over medium heat until the berries were soft.  I smashed them against the side of the pan with a spatula until they were fairly smooth.

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It was extremely sour.  I added a tablespoon of sugar, 1/4 cup of unsweetened natural coconut, and a teaspoon of chipotle powder.  The smokiness of the chipotle will compliment the bacon nicely and still give the sauce subtle heat.  After everything was combined and allowed to simmer for a few minutes, I removed it from the heat and set it aside.  I tasted it and was satisfied with it.  If you find it too tart, you could add more sugar.  My raspberries were fairly sweet.  It was hard to imagine what it would taste like on the fish, but there was only one way to find out.  (You could strain it at this point, if you have an issue with seeds.  I like the rustic look and seeds don’t bother me one bit, so I left mine as is.)

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Back to the fish.  I got out the biggest skillet I have (you need LOTS of room around the pieces of fish or they will just steam and your bacon will never get crispy).  I heated it over medium-high heat and did not use any oil or cooking spray since, after all, we are dealing with bacon here.  I put each piece of fish into the skillet with the bacon seams facing down.  You want to seal those seams right away.  I let them cook for about three minutes on this side and then carefully flipped them over and repeated the process.

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A quick touch test told me that the fish was still slightly undercooked in the center.  I transferred them to an oven-safe plate and allowed them to cook for a few more minutes in a 350-degree oven.  Here is what it looked like after it was finished cooking.

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I was really getting excited now.  The house was smelling great and I could nearly taste it.  I plated the fish and drizzled some of the sauce over the top.  The result was just as I had imagined it.  It was smoky, sweet, and spicy all at once.  This one is a keeper!

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